The Curiosity rover was sent to Mars to document a lot of different things, but one of the things it will be examining on are the weather patterns on the surface of Mars. Today NASA tells USA Today that it’s expecting mostly clear – if not a bit chilly – conditions on the red planet, with NASA scientist Manuel de la Torre saying that Curiosity can expect “balmy, minus-20-degree temperatures” during the day. At night, that already low temperature will plummet, eventually ending up around “minus-200 degrees Fahrenheit.”
If Curiosity only had the cold to deal with, it would be something of a pleasant getaway. These calm conditions aren’t expected to last much longer, however, as dust devils will begin to wreak havoc on the planet’s surface as the seasons change from winter to spring and then eventually summer. The dust devils aren’t even the worst of it either, as they can grow into massive dust storms that swallow the entire planet.
It’s those dust storm that de la Torre is interested in, and the Curiosity is well-equipped to study them. It comes loaded with tools that can measure wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, ground temperature, and air pressure. This weather data that’s collected on the surface will help NASA scientists determine if Mars is suitable for life, or if it ever was at some point in the past.
Ever since the Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars at the beginning of the week, we’ve been treated to one exciting news piece after another. True, talking about the weather on Mars may not be as exciting as seeing images of the surface, but this research is going to do a lot in helping us understand the red planet, and that is definitely something to look forward to. Be sure to check out our story timeline below for more posts on the Curiosity rover!