Thursday, August 23, 2012

Roving Through Large Temperature Swings

As Curiosity roves around the Martian landscape and checks out the surface, likely avoiding anything or anyone named Marvin in the process, we're learning more about the Martian weather day.  Matt touched on this point in a post made here last week about Martian weather -- a substantially thinner atmosphere that lacks water vapor combined with its farther distance from the sun and a lack of a magnetosphere results in a much more volatile temperature regime from day to day, with temperature swings of over 100 degrees theoretically possible according to scientists.

They're finding out that those swings may be wider than first thought.

The rover is sampling ground and air temperatures as it meanders around the Martian surface and over the course of one day NASA found that the temperature extremes were substantially larger than 100 degrees.

Graph courtesy NASA and JPL-Caltech
The data, sampled last week, showed air temperatures swings over the course of day to night on Mars of 131 degrees from the high (28) to the low (-103), with ground temperatures swinging from a high of 37 to a low of -132 (169 degree swing).

If you think Millville and the Pinelands can get cold at night...they've got nothing on Mars.  Oh, and the "humidity" in Mars makes the Sahara look like a tropical paradise in comparison.

You can check out the temperature readings on Mars whenever you want during the course of the mission.