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Mars rover 'Perseverance' sends back first weather reports

The observing equipment on Perseverance now allows scientists to gather weather data from three different points on the red planet.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

BUFFALO, N.Y. — NASA's Mars Perseverance rover made headlines when it landed on the red planet back in February, but the little machine certainly hasn't let fame or a long space journey get to its head. The rover and all of its on-board equipment began recording data from the surface in the first few minutes. 

Now several weeks later, NASA scientists are getting the first transmissions of weather reports from the rover's position in Jezero Crater thanks to the on-board "Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer" or MEDA sensor. 

Credit: NASA
Mars rover Perseverance's suite of weather observing instruments known as 'MEDA' or the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer.

This isn't the first log of temperature and wind data on Mars. Observations have been coming in from two other points: the Mars Curiosity rover and the Mars InSight lander. That makes three regularly reporting "weather stations" on the red planet, allowing for a slightly more detailed glimpse into how the Martian atmosphere works. Perseverance is unique because its sensors allow it to gather data up to 100 feet above the rover. The other two sites only record surface data.

The observations shared by NASA came from Martian days (also called sols) 43 and 44, known to us as April 3 and April 4 here on Earth. A Mars year lasts 687 Earth days and each day is slightly longer than one Earth day. During sols 43 and 44, the temperature peaked at -7.6 degrees Fahrenheit and plummeted to -117.4 degrees at night. Wind gusts peaked at 22 mph. 

Credit: WGRZ

Much like we use weather forecasts and observations to plan our day on Earth, NASA scientists hope to use weather data to plan future activities for the Mars rover and other missions. The primary concerns are the planet's infamous dust storms that can last days to weeks.