Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mars weather report: Gale crater set for summer heat wave?

Date:
September 28, 2012
Source:
Europlanet Media Centre
Summary:
Preliminary weather reports from the Curiosity’s Remote Environment Monitoring Station (REMS) are showing some surprisingly mild temperatures during the day. Average daytime air temperatures have reached a peak of 6 degrees Celsius at 2pm local time.  A Martian day – known as a Sol – is slightly longer than Earths at 24 hours and 39 minutes.

Weather Sensors on Mars Rover Curiosity. Sensors on two finger-like mini-booms extending horizontally from the mast of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity will monitor wind speed, wind direction and air temperature. One also will monitor humidity; the other also will monitor ground temperature.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Preliminary weather reports from the Curiosity's Remote Environment Monitoring Station (REMS) are showing some surprisingly mild temperatures during the day. Average daytime air temperatures have reached a peak of 6 degrees Celsius at 2pm local time.

A Martian day -- known as a Sol -- is slightly longer than Earths at 24 hours and 39 minutes. Temperatures have risen above freezing during the day for more than half of the Martian Sols since REMS started recording data. Because Mars's atmosphere is much thinner than Earth's and its surface much drier, the effects of solar heating are much more pronounced. At night the air temperatures sink drastically, reaching a minimum of -70 degrees just before dawn.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory touched down in Gale Crater on 5th August 2012 close to the equator of Mars at a latitude of 4.5 degrees south. The southern hemisphere of Mars is approaching springtime, leading to speculation about possible temperatures for at the height of Martian summer.

"That we are seeing temperatures this warm already during the day is a surprise and very interesting," says Dr Felipe Gómez of the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid. "It's very early days and we are only now being able to test our models against REMS observations. If this warm trend carries on into summer, we might even be able to foresee temperatures in the 20s -- and that would be really exciting from a habitability point of view. In the daytimes, we could see temperatures high enough for liquid water on a regular basis. But it's too soon to tell whether that will happen or whether these warm temperatures are just a blip."

REMS pressure sensors have also been recording slightly higher pressures than expected. In winter, Mars becomes cold enough for carbon dioxide at the poles to freeze, forming seasonal ice caps. Since carbon dioxide makes up most of the atmosphere, this process causes the overall atmospheric pressure to vary through the year. Models and data from previous mission predicted that Curiosity would land around the minimum mean pressure for the year. So far, the pressure measurements from REMS do indeed appear to be rising slowly. The pressure has risen from a daily average of around 730 pascals during the first three weeks after landing to around 750 pascals -- a tiny fraction of the average pressure at sea level on Earth.

"The pressure data show a very significant daily variation of pressure, following a fairly consistent cycle from Sol-to-Sol. The minimum is near 685 pascals and the maximum near 780 pascals. The majority of the variation is due to large scale waves in the atmosphere called tides. These tides are different from tides in the Earth's ocean because they are forced by heating due to the sun rather than the gravitational pull of the Moon. The tides are sensitive to the distribution of cloud and dust in the atmosphere, and also the large scale pattern of winds -- rather like the jet streams on Earth," says Javier Gómez-Elvira, the Principal Investigator of the REMS Instrument.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Europlanet Media Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Europlanet Media Centre. "Mars weather report: Gale crater set for summer heat wave?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120928085216.htm>.
Europlanet Media Centre. (2012, September 28). Mars weather report: Gale crater set for summer heat wave?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120928085216.htm
Europlanet Media Centre. "Mars weather report: Gale crater set for summer heat wave?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120928085216.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) — The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) — NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins