Mars weather service by NASA’s InSight Lander

NASA’s InSight lander has started providing a daily Mars weather report everyone can see. The American space agency has created a dedicated web page on the NASA InSight mission website to share that information.

InSight landed on Mars on November 26, 2018, at 19:52:59 UTC8 to measure the planet’s geology. InSight is an abbreviation for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport”. It is designed to study the deep interior of Mars.

InSight’s main objective is to study the earliest evolutionary history of the processes that shaped Mars – primarily by listening for Marsquakes. But it also brought some sophisticated meteorological tools on the Martian surface, including a vector magnetometer provided by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) that will measure magnetic disturbances, air temperature, wind speed and wind direction sensors based on the Spanish/Finnish Rover Environmental Monitoring Station; and a barometer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

The Temperature and Winds for InSight (TWINS) instrument, fabricated by the Spanish Astrobiology Center, also monitoring Mars weather at the landing site.

These instruments are much more sensitive than their counterparts used here on Earth because the Martian atmosphere is very thin, about 100 times thinner than Earth’s. The atmospheric pressure on the Martian surface averages 600 pascals (0.087 psi; 6.0 mbar), about only 0.6% of Earth’s mean sea level pressure of 101.3 kilopascals (14.69 psi; 1.013 bar).

You can see the Mars weather (actually local weather at Elysium Planitia, a flat, smooth plain near Mars’ equator where InSight has landed) daily below.

InSight’s Mars weather report includes not only daily high and low temperatures, but also unprecedented hourly data on wind speed, direction, and air pressure (you can see this additional information on the NASA Mars weather website).

Mars weather service by InSight lander
A selfie of NASA’s InSight lander – this is what it looks like on Mars. With its solar panels deployed, InSight is about the size of a small bus. The featured selfie above is a compilation of several images taken of different parts of the InSight lander, by the lander’s arm, at different times. SEIS, the orange-domed seismometer seen near the image center last month, has now been placed on the Martian surface. InSight lander opens a window into the “inner space” of Mars. Its instruments peer deeper than ever into the Martian subsurface, seeking the signatures of the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner Solar System, more than four billion years ago. InSight’s findings are expected to shed light on the formation of Mars, Earth, and even rocky exoplanets. This is a resized image. You can see the original image on the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website.

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