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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 08/22/2012

Mars weather: Curiosity rover measures out-of-this-world temperature swings

We’ve seen our fair share of extreme weather here on Earth these past few years. Yet when it comes to temperatures at least, Mars is far more volatile, as seen in the latest weather report from NASA’s Curiosity rover.

The graph below shows the dramatic swing in air and ground temperatures on Mars Aug. 16-17.


Mars’ ground and air temperatures Aug. 16-17, as observed by NASA’s Curiosity rover
Ground temperatures vary from as “high” as 37 degrees Fahrenheit to as low as minus 131.8 F. Air temperatures vary from as high as 28 F to as low as minus 103 F.

Why so bitter cold? That’s what being 50% farther from the sun than Earth will do for you.

Soon, the Curiosity rover will be providing full Mars weather reports that look like this:


An example (not actual data) of what the Mars weather reports will look like. “Sol” refers to the Martian solar day, which at 24 hours and 39 minutes is 3% longer than Earth’s solar day.
Pretty amazing stuff. However, it remains to be seen exactly what kind of wind reports Curiosity sends back now that scientists have discovered damage to its wind sensor. The damage is not expected to affect today’s first test drive of the rover.

Related: The NASA Curiosity rover and weather on Mars

By  |  12:30 PM ET, 08/22/2012

Categories:  Latest, Astronomy, Space

 
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