NASA’s Perseverance rover’s first Mars weather report will make you shiver


This GIF shows the deployment of part of the MEDA system on the Perseverance rover on Mars.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

I like to imagine the Perseverance Mars rover as a weather reporter, standing in front of a green screen with a map view of Jezero Crater, telling us all about the windy and cold weather that swept through Mars that day. We will have to be content NASA’s statement on Tuesday giving us the rover’s first weather report of the red planet.

Perseverance is endowed with Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), which collects data on air and soil temperature, relative humidity, radiation, pressure, and wind speed and direction.

MEDA took its first readings on February 19, shortly after the rover landed on Mars. This first weather report showed it was about minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 20 degrees Celsius) on the surface. The temperature dropped over the next 30 minutes to minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 25.6 degrees Celsius).

The system has been collecting data since its first weather report and has recorded temperatures as low as minus 117.4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 83 degrees Celsius) with wind gusts of up to 22 mph (10 meters per second).

Weather conditions will be particularly important, as experimentation Ingenuity helicopter approaching its first test flight. The rotorcraft must keep warm on cold Martian nights and the wind is a potential danger once it is in the air.

“Over the next year, MEDA will provide valuable insight into temperature cycles, heat flows, dust cycles and how dust particles interact with light, ultimately affecting both temperature and light. weather conditions, ”NASA said. The data will help scientists plan future missions for machines and humans.

Fans of Mars can compare the weather at Jezero Crater with other locations on the Red Planet. The The Curiosity rover provides the weather for Gale crater and the InSight lander monitors Elysium Planitia (although landing gear reports are currently on hiatus).

They all agree, however: March is cold.

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Dale D. Schrum