NASA says that once its Perseverance rover arrives on Mars early next year, it’ll start receiving ‘weather’ reports from a suite of sensors located on the vehicle. NASA calls this instrument the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), one designed to measure and report basic info like wind speed, temperature, and more.
The Perseverance rover was launched this past summer and it will arrive at Mars in February 2021, joining NASA’s other vehicles on and orbiting the planet. The new rover will have a number of tasks to complete when it arrives; it will, for example, collect samples for a future mission to retrieve and ship back to Earth.
One of its tasks will be gathering basic weather reports from the Red Planet using MEDA, including the direction and speed of the planet’s wind, its temperatures, humidity level, and pressure.
This information will be an important part of NASA’s future manned mission goals. Because Mars doesn’t contain any breathable oxygen, not to mention the extreme temperatures and other issues, it will be necessary to build habitable structures on the planet for astronauts.
Perseverance’s MEDA is designed to work alongside instruments on the InSight lander and Curiosity rover, the trio of which will provide data that forms what NASA says will be ‘the first meteorological network on another planet.’ MEDA will bring something new to the planet, namely the ability to precisely measure dust particles in the atmosphere, including their size, shape, and quantity.
This is an important tool for NASA, which notes that dust gets on everything on Mars and that it plays a big role in the planet’s weather. The MEDA data will help NASA learn more about the chemical processes behind this, paving the way for future missions.