NASA has released its first weather report from the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) system onboard the Perseverance rover, and you might want to grab a jacket because it’s going to be a little chilly.
Just a day after the rover touched down on Mars, the MEDA powered on for 30 minutes on February 19. And later that day engineers received the highly-anticipated first weather report.
“After a nail-biting entry descent and landing phase, our MEDA team anxiously awaited the first data that would confirm our instrument landed safely,” Jose Antonio Rodriguez-Manfredi, MEDA principal investigator with the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) at the Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial in Madrid said, according to NASA.
“Those were moments of great intensity and excitement. Finally, after years of work and planning, we received the first data report from MEDA. Our system was alive and sending its first meteorological data and images from the SkyCam.”
The MEDA weighs 5.5 kilograms and is designed to record a number of different factors including dust levels, atmospheric conditions, radiation and temperature that will help us prepare to — one day — send humans to Mars.
The first weather report is from the Jezero Crater on Mars, which sounds like a primo COVID-safe holiday destination, if you ask me.
The first weather report from Jezero Crater by @NASAPersevere:
Air temp of -4ºF (-20ºC) with less dust than @MarsCuriosity was seeing in Gale Crater 2,300 mi away.
Air pressure was a gasping 7.18 hPa
Within 30 minutes, temps dropped to -14ºF (-25.6ºC)https://t.co/aDpcKh7HZd
— Mars Weather (@MarsWxReport) April 6, 2021
According to NASA’s data, the surface temperature in the crater was -20 degrees Celsius when the device started recording, before dropping to -25.6 degrees Celcius within the next 30 minutes. So, ahh, you might want to bring a coat (or 12).
Additionally, the MEDA’s radiation and dust sensor indicated that the atmosphere in the Jezero was cleaner than in Mars’ Gale Crater (located 3,700 kilometres away, where the Curiosity rover is located) around the same time.
As for pressure, MEDA sensors recorded 718 Pascals, which is well within the 705-735 range that NASA engineers were predicting.
The MEDA weather report is part of the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission, which has a strong focus on astrobiology — aka the search for life on the red planet. And now we know that the tiny aliens we find will probably be wearing sweaters.