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 September 30, 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 September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) — Researchers at the University of Michigan simulated the birth of planets and our sun to determine whether water in the solar system predates the sun. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, including the first woman cosmonaut in 17 years, blasted off on schedule Friday. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Discovery On Small Planet Could Be Key To Earth 2.0

Water Discovery On Small Planet Could Be Key To Earth 2.0

Newsy (Sep. 25, 2014) — Scientists have discovered traces of water in the atmosphere of a distant, Neptune-sized planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: US-Russian Crew Lifts Off for Space Station

Raw: US-Russian Crew Lifts Off for Space Station

AP (Sep. 25, 2014) — A U.S.-Russian space crew has blasted off successfully for the International Space Station. The Russian Soyuz-TMA14M spacecraft lifted off from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan. (Sept. 25) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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