DIURNAL VARIATION IN AIR TEMPERATURES AT MSL ON MARS

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This page under construction on 8/4/2016

This article was begun on August 1, 2016, just five days shy of the 4th (terrestrial) anniversary of the landing of MSL on Mars. It is also well past two Martian years since landing. While most people who look at Mars weather statistics see only the numbers presented by NASA that we offer here, we have so thoroughly audited what they have issued that frankly we are beginning to feel as though we have lived at Gale Crater, Mars ever since the landing there on August 6, 2012. As such, we have often noted that while night air temperatures are fairly steady there is much more variation in day temperatures. To get a measure of this variation we focus here only on sols where the low air temperature was -74° C. As Figure 1 and Table 1 show on such days the air corresponding highs varied from +3° C down to as low as -27° C, a range of 30 ° C (54° C). If, as NASA contends, there were a near vacuum atmosphere, we would expect far less variation. Table 1 shows the same data as was presented on Figure 1 but it adds the calculation results for the length of daylight hours for each solar longitude (Ls) where a minimum air temperature of -74° C was recorded between landing of the Mars Science Laboratory on August 6, 2012 (Sol 1) and Sol 1,417 on August 1, 2016. The full calculations for day length at all solar longitudes are provided on my son's site at Table 5 of Martian Sunrise and Sunset Calculations.

 

TABLE 1

Summary of MSL length of daylight hours and high air temperatures for MSL sols in which the low air temperature was -74° C.

 

B

C

D

E

F

DATA LINE WITH -74°C LOW

SEASON

LS

MSL SOL NUMBER

~HOURS AND MINUTES OF DAYLIGHT

HIGH TEMP °C

1

WINTER YEAR  1

157

13

 11 hr 55.04 min

-15

2

WINTER YEAR 1

157

14

  11 hr 55.04 min

-16

3

WINTER YEAR 1

161

21

 11 hr 56.12 min

-3

4

WINTER YEAR 1

162

22

 11 hr 56.40 min

-6

5

WINTER YEAR 1

166

30

 11 hr 57.50 min

-3

6

WINTER YEAR 1

167

31

  11 hr 57.77 min

-23

7

WINTER YEAR 1

173

43

  11 hr 59.44 min

-12

8

WINTER YEAR 1

175

45

  11 hr 59.99 min

-9

9

WINTER YEAR 1

175

46

 12 hr 0 min

-12

10

WINTER YEAR 1

177

49

 12 hr 0.56 min

-10

11

WINTER YEAR 1

179

52

 12 hr 1.12 min

-7

12

SPRING YEAR 1

180

55

12 hr 1.41 min 

-2

13

SPRING YEAR 1

182

58

12 hr 1.96 min 

0

14

SPRING YEAR 1

186

64

 12 hr 3.09 min

0

15

SPRING YEAR 1

202

91

 12 hr 7.53 min

-1

16

SPRING YEAR 1

202

92

 12 hr 7.54 min

-1

17

SPRING YEAR 1

229

134

 12 hr 14.31 min

-1

18

SUMMER YEAR 1

339

311

 12 hr 7.25 min

-8

19

SUMMER YEAR 1

341

315

 12 hr 6.71 min

-10

20

SUMMER YEAR 1

341

316

 12 hr 6.4 min

-16

21

SUMMER YEAR 1

342

318

 12 hr 6.43 min

-4

22

SUMMER YEAR 1

344

320

 12 hr 5.88 min

-4

23

SUMMER YEAR 1

345

322

 12 hr 5.60 min

-5

24

SUMMER YEAR 1

345

323

 12 hr 5.48 min

-6

25

SUMMER YEAR 1

347

327

 12 hr 5.05min

-8

26

SUMMER YEAR 1

348

329

 12 hr 4.77 min

-7

27

SUMMER YEAR 1

349

331

 12 hr 4.49 min

-3

28

SUMMER YEAR 1

351

334

 12 hr 3.93 min

-6

29

SUMMER YEAR 1

358

348

 12 hr 1.96 min

-8

30

WINTER YEAR 2

165

697

 11 hr 57.21 min

-4

31

WINTER YEAR 2

178

720

  12 hr 0.84 min

-1

32

WINTER YEAR 2

179

722

 12 hr 1.12 min

1

33

SPRING YEAR 2

181

724

 12 hr 1.68 min

1

34

SPRING YEAR 2

183

728

 12 hr 2.24 min

1

35

SPRING YEAR 2

186

733

  12 hr 3.09 min

-2

36

SPRING YEAR 2

188

737

  12 hr 3.65 min

3

37

SPRING YEAR 2

193

745

 12 hr 5.05 min

3

38

SPRING YEAR 2

199

755

 12 hr 6.71 min

2

39

SPRING YEAR 2

215

781

 12 hr 10.96 min

3

40

SPRING YEAR 2

218

785

 12 hr 11.72 min

-5

41

SPRING YEAR 2

218

786

 12 hr 11.6 min

-4

42

SPRING YEAR 2

238

816

 12 hr 16.14 min

-7

43

SUMMER YEAR 2

274

871

 12 hr 19.28 min

-7

44

SUMMER YEAR 2

281

883

 12 hr 18.94 min

-6

45

SUMMER YEAR 2

304

919

 12 hr 15.96 min

-3

46

SUMMER YEAR 2

307

924

 12 hr 15.16 min

-1

47

SUMMER YEAR 2

317

941

 12 hr 12.96 min

0

48

SUMMER YEAR 2

317

942

 12 hr 12.8 min

-1

49

SUMMER YEAR 2

327

958

 12 hr 10.45 min

-9

50

SUMMER YEAR 2

332

967

 12 hr 11.72 min

-2

51

SUMMER YEAR 2

340

982

 12 hr 9.14 min

-4

52

SUMMER YEAR 2

341

984

 12 hr 6.71 min

-6

53

SUMMER YEAR 2

342

986

 12 hr 6.43 min

-1

54

SUMMER YEAR 2

343

987

 12 hr 6.15 min

-7

55

SUMMER YEAR 2

344

989

 12 hr 5.88 min

-10

56

SUMMER YEAR 2

347

995

 12 hr 5.05min

-4

57

SUMMER YEAR 2

348

997

 12 hr 4.77 min

-13

58

SUMMER YEAR 2

350

1000

  12 hr 4.20 min

-12

59

SUMMER YEAR 2

351

1003

 12 hr 3.93 min

-10

60

SUMMER YEAR 2

352

1004

  12 hr 3.65 min

-9

61

SUMMER YEAR 2

355

1010

  12 hr 2.84 min

-11

62

AUTUMN YEAR 2

3

1025

 12 hr 0.56 min

-14

63

AUTUMN YEAR 2

7

1032

 11 hr 59.44 min

-16

64

AUTUMN YEAR 2

74

1177

 11 hr 44.58 min

-27

65

AUTUMN YEAR 2

74

1178

 11 hr 44.52 min

-23

66

WINTER YEAR 3

146

1329

 11 hr 52.18 min

-15

67

SPRING YEAR 3

185

1401

 11 hr 44.58 min

-4

68

SPRING YEAR 3

190

1409

 12 hr 2.81 min

-9

        As can be seen above, the shortest day with low of -74°C had a high of -15°C. This was on Sol  1,329 at Ls 146 in the winter of MSL Year 3. The length of daylight then was about 11 hours 52.18 minutes (the lowest amount of daylight at Gale Crater is about 11 hours 43.76 minutes for Ls 90 when winter begins).

       The longest day with low of -74°C had a high of -7°C. This was on Sol  871 at Ls 274 in the early summer of MSL Year 2.   The length of daylight then was about 12 hr 19.28 minutes (the largest amount of daylight at Gale Crater is just just a few seconds longer at about 12 hours 19.34 minutes for Ls 270 when summer begins). There were several winter sols in the first 1,417 Martian days of MSL operations where the REMS Team and JPL reported warmer highs than the -7°C seen in the summer for Sol 871. Specifically, they are summarized on Table 2 below:

TABLE 2

Summary of MSL length of winter  daylight hours and high air temperatures for MSL sols in which the low air temperature was -74°C and in which the high air temperature was equal to or warmer than the -7°C seen in the summer on MSL Sol 871 at Ls 274.

 

 

B

C

D

E

F

DATA LINE WITH -74°C LOW

SEASON

LS

MSL SOL NUMBER

~HOURS AND MINUTES OF DAYLIGHT

HIGH TEMP °C

3

WINTER YEAR 1

161

21

 11 hr 56.12 min

-3

4

WINTER YEAR 1

162

22

 11 hr 56.40 min

-6

5

WINTER YEAR 1

166

30

 11 hr 57.50 min

-3

11

WINTER YEAR 1

179

52

 12 hr 1.12 min

-7

30

WINTER YEAR 2

165

697

 11 hr 57.21 min

-4

31

WINTER YEAR 2

178

720

  12 hr 0.84 min

-1

32

WINTER YEAR 2

179

722

 12 hr 1.12 min

1