Looking Up: Oh The Weather On Mars Is Frightful...

Mar 4, 2019

The white east and west facing booms called Temperature and Wind for InSight, or TWINS on the deck of NASA's InSight lander belong to its suite of weather sensors.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech / nasa.gov

Good news/bad news on this week's episode of  Looking Up. Now you can check the weather before your trip to Mars, but you probably won't like it. 

We are, or at least I hope we are, nearing the end of a long and cold winter. I for one do not like cold temps, but I do like what a great job the national weather service does in keeping us up to date on the weather forecast. Today I want to tell you about a very different weather prediction site that is available to you, over at nasa.gov.

With the arrival on Mars of the InSight Mission lander, we now have what amounts to full weather station on Mars. And because NASA is publicly minded, the created a lovely little weather forecast page for the Elysium Planitia, the region on Mars where InSight set down.

Ok, I won’t keep you in suspense, the forecast for Mars is, well, chilly. High temperatures will run about 3-7 degrees F for the next few days, with lows bottoming out at a blustery -140 F or so. Winds will be light and variable, mostly out of the west at about 10 mph, so the wind chill will be…let me think…really, really cold. Think about that for a moment – NASA has populated Mars entirely with robots, and one of them telling us the weather. So pop on over to mars.nasa.gov and check out the InSight forecast of the day.

If you’d like to take a closer look at Mars, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties.