This graph contains information about the surface temperature of Mars.
Click on image for full size
Image from: NASA/JPL
Mars Global Surveyor Measures Martian Surface Temperatures
This image shows how cold the surface of Mars can be. The temperature of the surface was measured by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The scale to the left shows that purple regions are the coldest, about -170 degrees F (-113C), while the yellow areas are the warmest at about 17 degrees F (-8C). The surface of Mars may often become warmer than 17 degrees. Other data returned by Mars Global Surveyor shows the temperatures can be 30 degrees F (~0C) or more. These temperatures are really cold, however. The surface is either freezing cold or much colder than freezing. No wonder the water of Mars may be frozen into the ground! Freezing temperatures may have something to do with the thin atmosphere and lack of a greenhouse effect.
Temperature data from the surface of Mars is being returned everyday now that Mars Global Surveyor has reached Mars. Check the Mars Global Surveyor Image Archives or the Mars Global Surveyor Webpage, below, for sample data. Scientists are interested in learning if temperatures ever come above freezing for long period of time. This would affect theories about Martian water and climate. Recent Martian exploration is directed at these and other questions.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
It has been more than 30 years since America's first missions to Mars. Here are some of the instruments carried by the Mars Global Surveyor (called MGS for short). These instruments are designed to study...more
These are some of the initial findings of Mars Global Surveyor. There definitely is a magnetosphere near Mars. this finding suggests that scientists must rethink theories about the evolution of Mars. Surface...more
The Mars Odyssey was launched April 7, 2001. After a six-month journey, the Odyssey arrived at Mars on October 24, 2001. The instruments onboard the Mars Odyssey will study the minerals on the surface...more
The Mars 2005 mission is still in the planning stages. It is set to launch in the year 2005. ...more
Aerobraking slowed the Mars Global Surveyor down when it reached Mars. Aerobraking also helped MGS to get into the right orbit for mapping the surface of Mars. Aerobraking means that the MGS flew through...more
Mars Global Surveyor carries an instrument which measures the heights of things. This instrument is called an altimeter, or "altitude-meter". The graph to the left shows the results returned from Mars...more
Mars Global Surveyor carries an instrument which measures the heights of things. The picture to the left shows Mars Global Surveyor's measurement of the size of the giant cliff which separates the southern...more