MARS CORRECT BASIC REPORT - SECTIONS 14.4 TO 14.6.2

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MSL Air and Ground Temperatures plus Probable Failure of the Temperature Sensor: Hardware or Personnel Issues? Updated 10/20/2017.

14.4 MSL Air and Ground Temperature Differences.

       The REMS Team states that Mars undergoes very extreme gradients between the ground and the atmosphere at 1.5 meters above the surface, with differences of ±40K.116 However, inconsistent differences in air and ground temperature taken 1.5 meters apart suggest that ground temperatures from MSL are worthless. The ground temperature sensor likely broke on landing.     

As was shown in Figure 55B, the air and ground temperature sensors on MSL are deeply flawed because of their crude accuracies. For the air temperature sensor the accuracy is to 5° C (9° F) while in the ground temperature sensor its accuracy is just 10° C (18° F). The air temperature sensor has a resolution of 0.1 ° C, but for the ground sensor it’s a full 2° C.  

       On Figure 60 we see enormous variation in the high temperature differences recorded from Booms 1 and 2 (see Figure 62) vs. the ground temperatures for 1.5 meters below the booms. If NASA is correct then the average pressure on Mars at areoid is about 6.1 mbar with pressures at MSL (about 4.4 km below areoid) ranging between about 7.3 mbar and 9.25 mbar (compared to a 1,013.25 mbar average pressure on Earth at sea level). With such low, near-vacuum pressures, we should expect temperature differences between 1.5 meters and the ground to be fairly consistent from day to day, but that's not at all what the data shows. Before apparent ground temperature failures or REMS Team rebellion around March 20 2017, in the summer the difference in temperature between the two elevations was as little as 2° C and as much as 26° C. In the winter it was as little as 1° C and as much as 30° C.

        JPL notes that in its graph of plots with daily minimum and maximum of ground temperature measured by REMS, a change in the pattern just after Sol 120 corresponds to Curiosity driving onto a type of ground with higher thermal inertia -- thus cooling off more slowly in the evening and warming up more slowly in the morning. They write that, the higher thermal inertia of this area was predicted from orbital infrared measurements and is likely due to greater abundance of exposed bedrock relative to soil or sand." That's fine, but we would still not expect such radical variation in differences of air and ground temperatures to occur as often as they are shown on Figure 60.

       While there are air temperature sensors on Booms 1 and 2 of MSL, a ground temperature sensor is only found on Boom 1 (see Figure 62) which was damaged on landing.

       No ground temperatures were published by the REMS Team or JPL until about 9 months after landing. When they suddenly appeared I asked JPL public affairs man Guy Webster about where they suddenly came from, He asserted that “Damage on landing did not include the infrared sensor that provides ground temp information. Ground temps through about Sol 200 were charted in April on the bottom half of http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16913.” Given that we had already successfully prevailed upon him and JPL to alter all (never-changing) wind data for MSL from 7.2 km/hour from the east to Not Available, and we had likewise succeeded in having him alter all never-changing sunrise/sunset times to line up with calculations that my son (David) and I had done, it was and remains our belief that JPL should likewise dump its ground temperature readings and replace them too with N/A. If they were more reliable we could likely use the differences between air and ground to help calculate air density (and pressure). But the simple fact appears to be that the data is not reliable.

       MSL has given us fantastic pictures of Mars, great geological data and new understanding about water just under the surface in many places (as with a frozen fresh-water sea at Utopia Planitia that has an area of the State of New Mexico). In some cases the proximity of liquid water to the surface likely affects ground temperature, but the ground temperature sensor is not sufficient to establish it.

       The most important data about Mars remains obscure - weather data. We have no reliable surface wind data after the Viking 1 and 2 landers of the late 1970's. We have no reliable ground temperature data, no reliable pressure data, and no reliable relative humidity data. We had 36 years of wrong sky color that was ordered by former NASA Director James Fletcher, from 1976 until 2012 that was ordered. Further, no lander after Vikings 1 and 2 has included a life-detection experiment, although those two landers (4,000 miles apart) apparently did detect life. The clearest thing detected about Mars so far seems to be the stonewalling that has gone on for four decades with respect to giving us accurate weather data and a commitment to send people there. Hopefully either Elon Musk of SpaceX or President Trump will alter the status quo.

Figure 60 - According to MSL, daily high temperatures are higher on the ground than they are in the air. Here we look at how much higher. It's an average of 11.39 degrees Celsius in summer and 15.43 degrees in the winter. But, again, the ground temperature sensor is only accurate to 10 degrees Celsius.  Figure 61 above shows a graph of air diurnal temperature drops in degrees Celsius for MSL Year 2 summer (orange) and MSL Year 2 to 3 winter (blue). It can be seen that although there are exceptions to the rule, in general temperature drops were greater from day to night in the summer (with an average drop of 68.034° C) than in the winter (when the average drop was 62.1073° C).

Figure 60 below: Location of meteorological sensors on Booms 1 and 2 of MSL.

        No ground temperatures were published by the REMS Team or JPL until about 9 months after landing. When they suddenly appeared I asked JPL public affairs man Guy Webster about where they suddenly came from, He asserted that “Damage on landing did not include the infrared sensor that provides ground temp information. Ground temps through about Sol 200 were charted in April on the bottom half of http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16913.” Given that we had already successfully prevailed upon him and JPL to alter all (never-changing) wind data for MSL from 7.2 km/hour from the east to Not Available, and we had likewise succeeded in having him alter all never-changing sunrise/sunset times to line up with calculations that my son (David) and I had done, it was and remains our belief that JPL should likewise dump its ground temperature readings and replace them too with N/A. If they were more reliable we could likely use the differences between air and ground to help calculate air density (and pressure). But the simple fact appears to be that the data is not reliable.

          MSL has given us fantastic pictures of Mars, great geological data and new understanding about water just under the surface in many places (as with a frozen fresh-water sea at Utopia Planitia that has an area of the State of New Mexico). In some cases the proximity of liquid water to the surface likely affects ground temperature, but the ground temperature sensor is not sufficient to establish it.

       The most important data about Mars remains obscure - weather data. We have no reliable surface wind data after the Viking 1 and 2 landers of the late 1970's. We have no reliable ground temperature data, no reliable pressure data, and no reliable relative humidity data. We had 36 years of wrong sky color, from 1976 until 2012 that was ordered by former NASA Director James Fletcher. Further, no lander after Vikings 1 and 2 has included a life-detection experiment, although those two landers (4,000 miles apart) apparently did detect life. The clearest thing detected about Mars so far seems to be the stonewalling that has gone on for four decades with respect to giving us accurate weather data and a commitment to send people there. Hopefully either Elon Musk of SpaceX or President Trump will alter the status quo.

14.5 MSL Diurnal Temperature Variation

       Figure 61 shows the temperature data released by NASA for the summer of MSL Year 2 and the winter of MSL Years 2 to 3. Summer in the southern hemisphere occurs in months 10, 11 and 12. There are 154 days in MSL's summer and 179 sols in MSL's winter. Winter in the southern hemisphere occurs in months 4, 5, and 6. Before analyzing the data it must again be noted that the ground temperature sensor at MSL is only accurate to 10K/10°C/18°F. See Figure 55B. On Figure 61 we see that air temperatures drop more degrees at night (68.034°C) in summer than in winter (62.1073 °C) although lows are colder in the winter than in the summer. Our record for MSL Year 2 Summer are maintained at our MarsCorrect.com site at http://marscorrect.com/photo4_11.html. There is a PDF version available as Annex O to this Report at http://marscorrect.com/ANNEX%20O.pdf.  The record for MSL Year 2 to 3 Winter is maintained at our MarsCorrect.com site at http://marscorrect.com/photo2_29.html. A PDF version is available as Annex Q to this Report at http://marscorrect.com/ANNEX%20Q.pdf.

       We wanted to get an idea of how cold it would get in the dark so we could compare it with darkness on the Earth’s moon. Daytime on one side of the moon lasts about 13 and a half days, followed by 13 and a half nights of darkness. The sunlit surface can reach 123° C. The "dark side of the moon" can have temperatures dipping to -153° C. The moon only tilts on its axis about 1.54 degrees so there are places at the lunar poles that never see daylight.  The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter measured temperatures of -238° C in craters at the south pole and -247° C (-412.6° F/26.15K) in a crater at the northern pole. That’s the coldest temperature recorded in the solar system.

       How do these temperatures compare with Mars? The REMS Team indicates that Mars average surface temperature is -53.15° C and varies widely over the course of a Martian day, from -128.185°C during the polar night to +26.85° C on the equator at midday at the closest point in its orbit around the Sun, with diurnal variations of up to 80°C to 100°C (https://cab.inta-csic.es/rems/intrument-description/ground-temperature-sensor/).  As the coldest lunar temperatures are so much colder than the coldest Martian temperatures it’s obvious that either the Martian atmosphere or warmth from below the surface is keeping Mars relatively warm at night. The coldest temperatures for the first 31 Martian months of MSL operation on Mars are shown on Table 21.

 

TABLE 21 – COLDEST AIR AND GROUND TEMPERATURES FOR THE FIRST 29 MARTIAN MONTHS OF MSL OPERATIONS ON MARS

YEAR

SEASON

MONTH

AIR TEMP LOW °C

GROUND TEMP HIGH °C

1

WINTER

6

-78

-87

1

SPRING

7

-76

-84

1

SPRING

8

-69

-80

1

SPRING

9

-68

-73

1

SUMMER

10

-73

-73

1

SUMMER

11

-79

-73

1

SUMMER

12

-78

-87

1

FALL

1

-82

-95

1

FALL

2

-86

-93

1

FALL

3

-88

-101

1

WINTER

4

-87

-97

1

WINTER

5

-75

-98

2

WINTER

6

-80

-96

2

SPRING

7

-78

-84

2

SPRING

8

-75

-75

2

SPRING

9

-76

-76

2

SUMMER

10

-76

-76

2

SUMMER

11

-78

-86

2

SUMMER

12

-81

-83

2

FALL

1

-84

-92

2

FALL

2

-84

-85

2

FALL

3

-90

-94

2

WINTER

4

-89

-100

3

WINTER

5

-84

-89

3

WINTER

6

-80

-85

3

SPRING

7

-78

-78

3

SPRING

8

-74

-75

3

SPRING

9

-78

-77

3

SUMMER

10

-81

-80

3

SUMMER

11

-77

-89

3

SUMMER

12

-81

-116

3

FALL

1

-80

-136

3

FALL

2

-81

-92

3

FALL (In-92a only goes to Ls complete – this

3

 

-129

         During the first 29 Martian months of MSL operations air temperature the coldest monthly temperatures ranged from -68°C (-90.4°F) to -90°C (-130°F). However for Martian month 30 (late summer in Year 3) the REMS Team published a low temperature of -116° C, and for Martian month 31 they published a low of -136° C (-212.8° F). In Martian month 33 they published a low ground temperature of       -129° C. We believe that this indicates either instrument failure or personnel problems. Returning to the first 29 months, for the less certain ground temperatures NASA presents us with a range from -73°C (-99.4°F) to -101°C (-149.8°F). The average of the coldest monthly lows for air temperature is -79.4282°C (-110.97076°F).  For ground temperatures it’s -85.2414°C (-121.43452°F). With respect to CO2 on Earth, it freezes at -78.5°C (-109.3°C), but even at the station at Vostok in Antarctica where the coldest temperature on Earth was recorded at -89.2°C (-128.6°F) dry ice did not form because the station is at 3,288 meters (10,787 feet) above sea level. At Vostok pressure would be down to about 676 Pa. At sea level the partial pressure at -78.5°C (-109°F), that equilibrium occurs is at a partial pressure of CO2 of 760 mm Hg (1,013.25 Pa), one atmosphere. Below that pressure, there isn’t enough abundance of CO2 molecules in the vapor phase for collisions with the solid surface to occur at a fast enough rate to make up for the ones that escaped; so the solid CO2; dry ice, will continue to sublimate.117 

 

Figure 63 Ground temperature low changes for MSL Sol 1670 to 1671 are not matched by similar air temperature changes. As with Figure 64 the air temperature lows were both -76 C, but here the ground temperature lows differed by 30 C. Figure 64: While low air temperatures for sols 1720 and 1721 were both -76 C, the ground temperature lows differed by 44 C.

Figure 65 MSL Sols 1717 to 1721 topography with altitudes below areoid with low air and ground temperatures posted by the REMS Team.

14.5.1. Why does the temperature fall more degrees at MSL in summer nights than winter nights? Note, it is of course true that winter nights are colder than summer nights at MSL, but the surprising phenomenon of a larger drop in degrees in summer than in winter is noted above in Figure 61. This seemed strange given the fact that nights are longer by about 32 minutes in MSL’s winter than summer, giving more time for the temperature to decline, and yet the rate of air cooling slowed then as the temperature seemed to head toward a limit imposed the heat retained in the ground or in the atmosphere. Normally the denser the air would be, the harder it would be to cool it.

          What do the two seasons look like with respect to the freezing point of water which is similar on Mars and Earth even though the boiling point is believed to be much lower on Mars than on Earth (see Figure 45E)? 

       In the summer all but 11 out of the 146 sols with data had ground temperatures above freezing. Of the 11 remaining sols all ranged between 0° C and -2° C. For air temperatures in the summer there were only 13 sols above freezing and another 12 sols that reached 0° C.

       In the winter 70 out of the 177 sols with data had ground temperatures above freezing. Another 11 reached 0° C. For air temperatures in the winter there were only 7 sols above freezing and just another one that reached 0° C.  

14.6. Probable Failure of the Ground Temperature Sensor or Personnel Issues?

The legitimacy of MSL ground temperature data has been in doubt ever since it first appeared (retroactively) about 9 months after landing. However, with two Martian years of MSL ground temperature data in hand, during the summer of MSL’s third year it been clear that there were radical low ground temperature variations taking place on a frequent basis that were unlike anything seen before. Nor did these extremely low temperatures correspond to low air temperature seen 1.5 meters up.  

       We publish all REMS reports and their revisions on our site at http://marscorrect.com/cgi/wp/?page_id=622.  The MSL Year 3 Summer results are also in Annex V of this report. A fragment of them are shown below as Table 22.  As was shown on Table 21, during the first 29 months of MSL Curiosity operations -101°C (-149.8°F) was the coldest ground temperature was -101°C (-149.8°F). It was in the late fall. But on Sol 1670 the REMS Team claimed a ground low of -116 °C (-176.8°F), and it was still summer (Ls 340, with about 12 hours 3 minutes of daylight (see Figure 64).  Odder still, while ground temperature lows between Sol 1640 and 1687 varied between -66° C and -118° C, a full 50° C range (80° F), the air temperature range only varied from -71 C° to -77° C, a 6° C (10.8 °F) difference.  So clearly cold air is not what is producing the super cold ground temperatures.  Further, every one of the sols had ground temperature highs above freezing with a range of 2° C (35.2° F) up to 16° C (60.8° F). On Sol 1721 (June 9, 2017) at Ls 16 REMS asked us to believe a new record low of -136° C which is -212.8° F. Again, there was no matching low in air temperature (it was -76° C). The amount of daylight on Sol 1721 was 11 hours 55 minutes.  

       Could distance moved by the Curiosity Rover account for the erratic temperature variations at night? Not likely.  JPL indicates that between Sol 1720 and 1721 Curiosity only moved 12.3 meters, increasing altitude by about one meters from 4,257 meters below areoid to 4,256 meters below areoid (see https://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/06/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol1721_jschroeder-full.jpg). The topography for sol 1717 through 1721 is shown as Figure 65. It does not seem to indicate a major shift in terrain such as rocky to dune formation. The air and ground temperature lows for each sol have been added by us.

Figure 66A - JPL identified positions and MOLA altitudes for sols 1639 to 1671. Low air and ground temperatures were added based on REMS Team weather reports. More temperature detail is found on Figure 65B.

       Problems with ground temperature lows began to crop up in March, 2017. This was mentioned by us in conjunction with Sols 1670 and 1671 which are shown on Figure 65. Then, like Figure 63, the air temperature lows were -76° C, but the ground temperature low for Sol 1670 was -116° C,   while it was -86° C on the following sol.      

       The JPL topography map for sols 1639 to 1671 is found at https://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/2017/curiositys-traverse-map-through-sol-1671. On Figure 65B we have tried to pair air and ground temperature lows with sols. For some entries there are best guess estimates where the JPL map lacked a specific point for the sol. On Figures 63 through 64B we looked for a correlation between ground temperature lows and surface type (sand dunes vs. rocks) but there was no consistent pattern that could explain extreme cold seen.

Figure 66B JPL published the positions for MSL Sols 1635, 1636, 1639, 1642, 1643, 1645, 1646, 1648 and 1649. During these dates low ground temperatures varied between -79 and -93 C. However, the dates that they did not show had ground temperature lows that varied from -80 and -111 C with five temperatures colder than -101 C, the coldest temperature ever observed by MSL. At Sols 1647 to 1648 Curiosity was at an altitude of 4,300 meters below areoid. At Sol 1.635 (upper left) Curiosity was at 4,304 meters below areoid.

TABLE 22 –MSL MAXIMUM AND MINIMUM AIR AND GROUND TEMPS

SOLS 1634 TO 1684

A

B

C

D

E

 F

SOL

MAXIMUM AIR TEMP °C   

MINIMUM AIR TEMP °C

MAXIMUM GROUND TEMP °C

MINIMUM GROUND TEMP °C

∆ GROUND TEMP (DROP DAY TO NIGHT)

 

 

 

RED IF   > 0 °C

PURPLE = -90°C or COLDER

Yellow numbers=   -80 to -89 °C,  red =  -90°C or colder drop

1634

-5

-72

12

-83

-95

1635

-7

-73

16

-79

-95

1636

-14

-72

16

-80

-96

1637

-10

-73

15

-83

-98

1638

 -9

-73 

15 

-81

-96 

1639

 -6

-71

13

-80

-93

1640

-8

-72

13


-98

-111

1641

-6 

-72 

15

-82

-97

1642

-13

-72

11

-81

-92

1643

-11

-74

14

-81 

-95

1644

-10

-74 

13

-102

-115

1645

-3

-74

14

-83

-97

1646

-8

-74

11

-93

-104

1647

-3

-73

6

-78

-84

1648

-14

-73

7

-79

-86

1649

-14

-74

11

-93

-104

1650

-8

-75

12

-110

-122

1651

-8

-77

11

-105

-116

1652

-15

-76

12

-92

-104

1653

-15

-75

12

-84

-96

1654

-17

-75

13

-84

-97

1655

-14

-76

12

-99

 -111

1656

-3

-75

12

-105

-117

1657

-9

-75

12

-66

-78

1658

-8

-77

12

-111

-123

1659

-7

-77

13

-88

-101

1660

-5

-74

15

-85

-100

1661

-5

-75

14

-103

-117

1662

-3

-75 

13 

-83

-96 

1663

-6

-74

10

-82

-92

1664

-8

 -74 

10 

-103

-113

1665

-7

-76

8

-106

-114

1666

-8

-76 

7

-104

-111

1667

-9

-76 

6

-103 

-109

1669

-12

-74  

6 

-104 

-110

1670

-12

-76 

6 

-116

-122

1671

-7

-76 

 7  

-86

-93

1672

-5

-74 

9

-93 

-99

1673

-6

-75

  6  

 -109

-115

1674

-6 

-75 

2

-109 

-111

1675

-6 

-75
 

4

-94

-98

1676

-11

-76

10

-113

-123

1677

-8

-74 

  7

-84

-91

1678

-11

-74 

     6   

-84 

-90

1679

-12

-75

10

-84 

-94

1680

-11 

-74 

6 

-88

-94 

1681

-12 

-74 

6 

-85

-91

1682

-13

-76

5

-115

-120

1683

-15

-75

5 

-91

-96

1684

-14

-75

5

-89

 -94

Table 22 - Starting around MSL Sol 1640 (March 18, 2017) extremely low ground temperature lows became totally inconsistent with anything seen before since MSL landed in 2012.

Figure 67 - After we posted the three images on the left someone at the REMS Team or at JPL altered the Sol 1605 report to what is shown on the right. It is quite apparent that before March, 2017 reports that vary too much from the preceding day or previous Martian year at the same Ls do not survive long at the REMS site at http://cab.inta-csic.es/rems/en.

14.6.1 Failure of the Temperature Sensor.

        The right question is likely not about why the ground temperature sensor began to fail in March, 2017. Rather, it’s why NASA, or the REMS Team working for them, are allowing us now to see that there is something radically wrong with the sensor. The answer is likely very simple. Few people in the world care enough about Martian weather to inspire NASA to care.  However, those that do are in many cases middle-level NASA workers who know something’s wrong, but are afraid to say something because it would cost them their job. I live in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Most of my neighbors who are not yet retired largely meet this description.

        As I wrote earlier, Boom 1 that carried the ground temperature sensor was damaged on landing in 2012.  It took about 9 months before the REMS Team began to publish any ground temperatures at all in their daily weather reports.  Then 9 months’ worth of ground temperature data suddenly appeared, along with a statement by Guy Webster that only the wind sensor on the boom was destroyed (we got him to remove all wind data). In July, 2013 NASA decided to revise a lot of air temperatures way down, dropping many from above freezing to well below it - see Table 19 in Section 14 of this report.

       Perhaps the most important thing for our readers to understand is that not all NASA data published by NASA is from NASA alone. In an astonishing twist of fate, much of it in part actually originated here. How is that possible? Look at our records for MSL Sol 1605 (Ls 314, February 10, 2017). See Figure 67 and Annex V of this report. The REMS Team originally published a pressure of 815 Pa, but the preceding day the pressure was 850 Pa. A drop of 35 Pa was not reasonable from one sol to the next. Typically the change in pressure is under 10 Pa. So we predicted that NASA would alter it, and they did indeed back up to 847 Pa. When this happens we don’t just put it on our weather spreadsheets. We document the prediction and NASA changes by publishing before and after print-screen showing what NASA did.

       For Sol 1605 (February 10, 217) we also successfully predicted that NASA would alter its temperature data.  At first they published a low air temperature of -54° C.    We noted that the previous sol (1604) had an air temperature low of -77    ° C.     Such large changes from one sol to another have not survived in the past (that is, before about March 18, 2017). Sure enough, NASA altered the air temperature low for Sol 1605 to -73 ° C. Likewise, the initial ground temperatures for Sol 1605 were +10 ° C for a high and -61° C for a low. For Sol 1604 they were +15° C and -77° C.  That was too much of a change, so NASA made the predicted change and claimed Sol 1605 ground temperatures were really +14 and -78° C. This cat and mouse game has gone on for five years now, and we have documented it all.   NASA seems to have had one agenda only – keep the data on a believable curve, and hope that nobody with access to the purse strings figures out what they have been doing.  However, for some reason, this pattern was altered around Sol 1640 (March 18, 2017).  The question is, why?

14.6.2 Personnel Issues.

        The inventor of the pressure sensor, Henrik Kahanpää of the Finnish Meteorological Institute and of the REMS Team is a frequent visitor of our three websites. So are other REMS Team members. Given the loss of the ExoMars 2016, likely due to bad weather data from NASA, we suspect that major (European) Mars weather personnel have had enough of pressure to conform.