It's been a chilly couple of weeks for the Mars Curiosity rover, as it takes stock of its surroundings, and tests its various systems.
Temperature reports from its Rover Environmental Monitoring Station have been between -2 degrees Celsius during the day, down to -75 degrees Celsius at night. Those kinds of daytime temperatures are nothing unusual for Canadians, but the lowest temperature ever recorded here was in Snag, Yukon, at -63 degrees C, in 1947. Toronto had a record low of -33 degrees C back in the late 1800s, Vancouver has been down to around -15 degrees C, and Montreal reached near -38 degrees C in 1957.
So, -75 degrees C might be a little bit cold for us. Maybe we'd need a blanket, or some earmuffs.
Wind direction and speed has proven to be a bit more difficult to get, though, as NASA isn't receiving information from one of the REMS wind sensors.
"One possibility is that pebbles lofted during the landing hit the delicate circuit boards on one of the two REMS booms," said Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, according to Science Daily. "We will have to be more clever about using the remaining wind sensor to get wind speed and direction."
As someone who's worked as a meteorologist, and has always been interested in Astronomy, I've often wondered about the weather on other planets and the possibility of forecasting weather. Up until now, that's just been for fun, but now, with rovers wandering around on Mars and future plans to land people there, it would seem to have at least some practical applications.
Fortunately, within a week or two, Curiosity will begin posting its weather data online.