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Weather found by Mars Pathfinder: - Windows to the Universe

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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
This is the first image showing clouds of Mars taken from the lander.
Click on image for full size
Image from: JPL/NASA

Weather found by Mars Pathfinder

This is the first image showing clouds of Mars taken from the lander. Ground based viewing of Mars has shown that clouds seem to be plentiful only in the middle latitudes As early as 1796 scientists were reporting "yellow", and "white" or "bluish" clouds in the Martian atmosphere. With data from the Mariner 9 mission, scientists could finally prove that the clouds were made of water. It is known that there are weather patterns on Mars which resemble terrestrial storms. It is not known whether rain comes from these storms however!

Mars Pathfinder set out to record the same kind of temperature and pressure data which is used to diagnose the weather on Earth. Mars Pathfinder also recorded cloud patterns for study later. Some of these can be viewed in the Image Archive below. Mars Pathfinder found the weather on Mars to be variable. There were light winds (16-35 km/hr - compare these speeds with those on the Earth), gusting both at night and during the day. Cold morning air was warmed by the surface and carried upward, just as it is on Earth. Afternoon temperatures were steady, but the early afternoons were plagued by dust devils, which were repeatedly seen. Dust devils on Mars can sometimes turn into full fledged Global Dust Storms!


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF