NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will provide daily weather reports for Mars, thanks to the Red Planet’s newest robotic resident, InSight, mission scientists announced on Thursday.
“The InSight lander is close to the Martian equator — just north of the equator — so it is experiencing Martian winter,” said Don Banfield, the mission’s lead for the lander’s Auxiliary Payload Subsystem (APSS).
APSS is a suite of meteorological sensors on the lander’s deck that also helps with quake detection.
“For our mission, APSS will help us filter out noise in our data and know when we’re seeing a Mars quake and when we aren’t,” said Banfield, a principal research scientist at Cornell University in the U.S.
“But by operating continuously, we’ll also see a more detailed view of the weather than most surface missions, which usually collect data for just a few hours at a time,” Banfield said in a statement.
Currently, Mars’ northern hemisphere sits in winter — the stormy season, researchers said.
“Since the lander is close to the equator, I did not think we would see any evidence of the storms that are 60-degrees north latitude, but we are already seeing evidence of the high and low pressure-signal waves that create weather on Mars,” Banfield said.
“We can see those waves all the way down near the equator, as the waves are big enough that they have a signature. That was a surprise,” he said in a statement.