HOW NASA/JPL ALTERED HIGH TEMPERATURES FOR MSL

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This page under construction (4/24/2014)

This article will trace how NASA/JPL and the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) Team, have altered temperatures reported by the Curiosity Rover at Gale Crater in Mars since it landed on August 6, 2012. It will also link to the current temperatures claimed up until at least Sol 600 for the Curiosity. Figure 1 (from Space.Com) shows that the initial temperatures reported were surprising warm.

Figure 1 - Report in Space.com dated October 1, 2012 discussing the warm temperatures seen since Curiosity landed on August 6, 2012.

Until July 3, 2013 we knew that over the last year the REMS Team and Ashima Research had put out clearly erroneous winds, sunrise and sunset times, pressure units, dates on their reports, months and claims about relative humidity that were not reflected on their reports. We (wrongly) assumed however that at least the temperature reports were reliable. That assumption was demolished on July 3, 2013 when they revised all temperatures back to the landing, wiping out scores of days where they had claimed high temperatures above freezing. Some of these revisions are visible on Figure 2 and Table 1 (from Figure 14B and Table 7 of Section 2.6 in our Basic Report):

(Figure 2 is Figure 14B in our Basic Report). It shows some of the altered temperatures.

 Table 1 shows how originally reported temperatures were radically reduced.

 

 

 

TABLE 1 – MSL Temperatures Altered by the REMS Team in July, 2013

A

B

C

D

SOL

ORIGINAL MAX AIR TEMP °C

NEW MAX AIR TEMP °C

CHANGE °C (EQUALS CHANGE K)

 

 

TEMP ≥ 0°C REDUCED TO TEMP ≤ 0°C

 

23

0

-16

16

26

2

-14

16

27

-1

-15

14

31

-3

-23

20

38

-3

-13

10

40

2

-12

14

41

2

-12

14

42

5

-7

12

43

3

-12

15

44

4

-10

14

45

3

-9

12

46

4

-12

16

47

6

-9

15

49

4

-10

14

50

0

-10

10

51

3

-7

10

52

7

-7

14

53

5

-5

10

54

5

-9

14

102

8

-3

11

112

5

-8

13

116

5

-6

11

118

4.53

-6

10.53

123

2.1

-10

12.1

124

5.4

-5

10.4

179

5

-7

12

 

 

 

 


On my article about the change in temperature from the ground to a height of about 1.5 meters above ground level at MSL Curiosity, I wrote the following: This article looks at the variation between air and ground temperature for 500 sols (Martian days) at MSL Curiosity from landing to Sol 570 on March 14, 2014. For the missing days there was no data reported. The initial assumption was that with the thin atmosphere generally accepted (before our research began) the daytime rate of heat loss between the ground and the mast at a height of 1.5 meters above ground level would be fairly consistent with little variation. Likewise the ground would cool faster than the air at night and this would also be consistent. It was hypothesized that a large amount of variation especially at night would suggest a more complex atmosphere with a higher density than what NASA claims. In fact, as Table 1 (shown as Table 2 here), its supporting graphs and data show, during the days there was a standard deviation of 5.63 °C (about 13.05 °F) in general heating of the ground as attention shifted from the mast to the ground where it was about 12 °C warmer, and during the night there was a standard deviation of about 9.1949 °C (16.55 °F) in general cooling (with notable exceptions at sols 34,123,192,215, 310, 466, 486, 489, 501, 513, and 537) as attention shifted from the mast to the ground where it was about 7.774 °C cooler. However, the ground temperatures are not very precise. Ground temperature were supposed to be recorded with a thermopile on Boom 1 (which suffered some damage on landing). Assuming that Guy Webster (JPL P.R.) was correct when he told me that only the wind sensor was damaged on Boom 1, the ground temperature sensor was supposed to view the Martian surface to the side of the rover through a filter with a passband of 8 to 14 microns. The requirement was to measure ground brightness temperature over the range from 150 to 300 K with a resolution of 2 K and an accuracy of 10 K. Note: REMS has made a number of changes to ground temperatures they post since they began doing so in 2013. So any attempt to check their numbers from time to time can be frustrating because they present a constantly moving target. 
 
                                                        TABLE 2
 

DAY OR NIGHT

MEAN MAX

AIR TEMP (DAY) OR MINIMUM (NIGHT)

MEAN MAX GROUND TEMP °C

(DAY) OR MINIMUM (NIGHT)

STANDARD DEVIATION IN MAX AIR TEMP °C (DAY) OR MINIMUM (NIGHT)

STANDARD DEVIATION IN MAX GROUND TEMP (DAY) OR MINIMUM (NIGHT)

MEAN DIFFERENCE AIR TO GROUND °C

 

STANARD DEVIATION

°C

DIFFERENCE AIR TO GROUND (All sols)

DAY

-11.89

1.16

10.21

12.84

13.05  

5.63

NIGHT

-74.838

-82.612

9.167

9.1949

-7.774

7.21