Albuquerque, my hometown, is having a school-is-cancelled snow day today. It's 25 Fahrenheit (-4 Celsius). But I just checked the weather report for Mars and now I'm ready to throw on a bathing suit and go frolic in the balmy New Mexico air.
NASA's InSight lander is our new weatherperson for the Red Planet. NASA announced on Tuesday that the machine is delivering a daily Mars weather update from its landing site in Elysium Planitia, not far from the planet's equator.
The most recent stats from Sol 81 (Feb. 17 here on Earth) show a high of 2 Fahrenheit (-17 Celsius) and a low of -138 Fahrenheit (-95 Celsius). Brrr. You can also check out wind speeds and air pressure data for each day.
"It gives you the sense of visiting an alien place," said InSight weather-science lead Don Banfield of Cornell University. "Mars has familiar atmospheric phenomena that are still quite different than those on Earth."
InSight is using a set of sensors called the Auxiliary Payload Subsystem (APSS) to gather weather data. While they give the public a fun peek into Mars' weather, they'll let NASA study seasonal changes and dust devil activity.
The sensors will also help the seismometer team determine if the instrument is picking up actual marsquakes, or if the instrument might instead be impacted by environmental events.
InSight is on a mission to study Mars' interior so we can learn more about how rocky planets form. The lander has already deployed a seismometer and placed a device on the planet's surface.
The next time you're feeling chilled, be sure to check out InSight's latest from Mars. Earth isn't so bad after all.
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