This full-circle view combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, generating a panorama with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version. The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
Before you gripe about the winter weather being too cold, you may want to check the weather on Mars.
A new app from Spain’s Centro de Astrobiologia allows you to do just that, displaying the temperature, pressure, wind, humidity and other data for the current Martian day, called a sol. Today, Mars has a high temperature of minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of minus 117.
The weather data comes from the Mars rover Curiosity, which has been on the Red Planet for 458 sols. Curiosity carries an instrument called the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), which was designed and is operated by the Centro de Astrobiologia, which also produced the app, called REMS Mars Weather. The free app can display past weather data for every sol Curiosity has been on Mars.
(MORE: Seasons on Mars)
Mars experiences seasons just like Earth does, but the planet is overall much colder and drier than our own. Scientists know that Mars, in the distant past, was much more Earth-like, with a thicker atmosphere, warmer temperatures and flowing water on its surface; what they’re not sure of is how the planet became the frigid desert it is today.
Yesterday, NASA launched a news Mars mission, called MAVEN, to try to answer this question. MAVEN will reach Mars in September 2014 and will orbit the planet, studying its upper atmosphere to try to understand what made the planet’s climate change so dramatically.
REMS is not the only Mars weather app. In May, makers of a free app simply called Sol won an award for Best Use of Data at the 2013 International Space Apps Challenge. Sol displays the weather forecast for both your location on Earth and Gale Crater on Mars, where Curiosity is operating, also using data from REMS.
MORE: Dust Storms on Mars
Weather on Mars
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Several times a year a dust storm of titanic size blooms on Mars. These monster storms can cover thousands of square miles...and have even been known to blanket the entire planet. (Courtesy Ron Miller)