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

If you ever go to Mars, be sure to pack some puffer jackets.

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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 the Jezero Crater, telling us all about the breezy, cold weather sweeping across Mars that day. We'll have to settle for NASA's statement on Tuesday giving us the rover's first weather report from the red planet.

Perseverance is equipped with the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) system, which gathers data on air and ground temperature, relative humidity, radiation, pressure, and wind speed and direction. 

MEDA took its first readings on Feb. 19, not long after the rover's landing on Mars. That first weather report showed it was about minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 20 degrees Celsius) at 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 logged 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 will be particularly important as the experimental Ingenuity helicopter nears its first test flight. The rotorcraft has to keep itself warm through the cold Martian nights and wind is a potential hazard once it's up in the air.

"Over the next year, MEDA will provide valuable information on temperature cycles, heat fluxes, dust cycles, and how dust particles interact with light, ultimately affecting both the temperature and weather," NASA said. The data will help scientists plan future mission for both machines and humans.  

Mars fans can compare the weather in Jezero Crater with other spots on the red planet. The Curiosity rover delivers weather from the Gale Crater and the InSight lander monitors Elysium Planitia (though the lander reports are currently on hiatus).

They all agree, though: Mars is cold. 

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