NASA's Perseverance rover sends back its first Mars weather report

As NASA had previously detailed, the Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars in mid-February, is equipped with a system called the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). This tool is designed to gather local 'weather reports' from the Perseverance rover's location in the Jezero Crater, then send the data back to people on Earth. This week marked the first delivery of such a report.

NASA explains that its MEDA team first powered on the system on February 19 for half an hour. Later that day, the team received the first batch of data from the system, confirming that it had survived the intense descent to the Red Planet with the Perseverance rover.

The system — which is pretty bulky with a 12lbs weight — features a number of sensors that enable it to measure half a dozen atmospheric conditions, as well as the dust levels at any given time. Relative humidity, pressure, wind, air temperature, radiation, and ground temperature are all measured by the system, which can wake itself up hourly to record data regardless of whether the rover is asleep.

Using the first batch of data from MEDA, NASA says its team was able to put together the first weather report from the Red Planet's Jezero Crater. At the start of the system's measurements, the crater's temperature was a biting -4F; half an hour later, the temperature had dropped to -14F.

The team was able to contrast the data with atmospheric information sent by the Curiosity rover's REMS system over in the Gale Crater, revealing that Jezero had a clearer atmosphere at the time. The researchers were also able to confirm their prediction models with the system, which measured atmospheric pressure at 718 Pascals.

Though Curiosity has its own weather-monitoring system, NASA notes that MEDA packs some important upgrades, including the ability to measure temperatures at multiple heights in addition to the surface temperature, plus it can measure 'the radiation budget' near Mars' surface. MEDA is also more durable than REMS and will provide regular measurements for experts to utilize over the coming years.