FEB 19, 2019 5:44 PM PST

NASA's InSight Lander Provides Daily Weather Reports from Mars

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander touched down on the Martian surface less than three months ago, and it has already realized a plethora of essential milestones. The deployment of the SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure) instrument for marsquake detection was one, and the placement of a complementary heat shield to protect it from the elements was another. On the other hand, the InSight mission is comprised of many analytical instruments; not just a seismometer.

NASA's InSight lander possesses weather instruments that can measure temperature and wind speed/pressure on Mars.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

As some might recall, it was just shortly after InSight made its landing that NASA received signals from it that could only be described as the sound of Martian wind. While some of that information came by way of InSight’s SEIS instrument, the bulk came from InSight’s integrated air pressure sensor, which is just one of the mission’s supplementary devices encompassed by the Auxiliary Payload Subsystem (APSS).

Related: Everything InSight has accomplished thus far since landing on Mars

InSight’s APSS sensor suite is responsible for reporting Martian weather conditions to NASA such that scientists can filter “sources of noise” that would otherwise sully vital information recorded by InSight’s other instruments. For example, wind can generate vibrations that can throw off seismometer-centric marsquake detections, and changes in surface temperature can throw off readings apprehended by InSight’s heat flow probe.

Although meteorology wasn’t the primary purpose of the InSight lander’s APSS sensor suite, that hasn’t stopped NASA from going above and beyond initial intentions to make the mission more fun for everyone. Starting Tuesday, avid NASA fans can visit a new web page on the space agency’s website to see a daily weather report encompassing Mars’ weather conditions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mars is a chilly place. APSS reported a high of 2° Fahrenheit on Sunday, February 17th, with an average temperature of -78° and a low of -138°. The data also shows that wind gusts peaked at 37.8 miles per hour, with an average speed of 12 miles per hour and a minimum speed of 1.1 miles per hour. The data records go as far back as Monday, February 11th.

"It gives you the sense of visiting an alien place. Mars has familiar atmospheric phenomena that are still quite different than those on Earth," explained InSight weather science lead, Don Banfield.

"APSS will help us filter out environmental noise in the seismic data and know when we're seeing a marsquake and when we aren't. By operating continuously, we'll also see a more detailed view of the weather than most surface missions, which usually collect data only intermittently throughout a sol."

Related: NASA officially terminates the Opportunity mission

Following extraplanetary weather conditions might not be everybody’s forte, but it’s still neat to see NASA publishing this information for the general public to see rather than keeping everything to themselves.

Source: NASA, Mars Weather

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 11, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
DEC 11, 2020
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
Physicists believe that we exist in an expanding universe. But what does that mean? Do our habitats, bodies, and atoms & ...
JAN 24, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
ALMA observations give insight into the formation of stars
JAN 24, 2021
ALMA observations give insight into the formation of stars
New research published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics gives new insight into the mystery behind how stars f ...
JAN 27, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Find Rocky Planet Created Just After the Big Bang
JAN 27, 2021
Astronomers Find Rocky Planet Created Just After the Big Bang
Researchers have discovered a ten billion-year-old planetary system. While two of its planets are gaseous, as would be e ...
MAR 06, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Hot Neighbor Is the Stuff of Astronomers' Dreams
MAR 06, 2021
Earth's Hot Neighbor Is the Stuff of Astronomers' Dreams
This image by RenderArea is an artistic impression of the surface of a newly discovered, scorching hot, rocky, super-Ear ...
MAY 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Completes Its First One-Way Trip on Mars
MAY 09, 2021
NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Completes Its First One-Way Trip on Mars
NASA sent the Perseverance rover to Mars loaded with cutting edge technology, one piece of which is a robotic helicopter ...
MAY 15, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Find Liquid Water Inside Meteorite
MAY 15, 2021
Scientists Find Liquid Water Inside Meteorite
Scientists know that water is abundant in the solar system- existing in the rings of Saturn and on its moon, Enceladus. ...
Loading Comments...