COMPARISON OF PRESSURES FOR SIMILAR Ls FOR VL2 AND MSL

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Updated 12/19/2014

Table 1 compares pressures for Viking 2 and MSL when they are at similar Ls positions in their orbit. The altitude of Viking 2 is 4.505 km below Mars areoid. If average pressure at areoid over the course of a Martian year is 6.1 mbar (hPa), then using a scale height of 10.1, the average annual pressure at VL-2 should be about 9.257 mbar. The altitude of MSL is 4.4 km below Mars areoid. As such, the average annual pressure at MSL should be about 9.168 mbar. Thus MSL should have an average pressure .089 hPA (8.9 Pa) less than that at VL-2 (see Table 2). Figure 1 greatly expands upon Table 1 and takes it up through Ls 216 for Sol 111 on November 28 or 28, 2012. Ashima and REMS often published incorrect matches for Sols with Earth dates and Ls. This is noted at HERE.

Note: Comparison of MSL Years 1 and 2 is found at MSL Year 2 Weather data. Maximum pressure for MSL Year 1 was given as 925 Pa at Ls 252 and 253. Maximum pressure for MSL Year 2 was given as 924 Pa at Ls 248.

Table 1 above - Comparison of pressures for Viking 2 and MSL when they are at similar Ls positions in their orbit.

At first glance it looks like there is a good match for many of the sols with each lander at the analogous Ls. But Table 1 has no data for VL-2 for its sols 761 to 780 (between Ls 164.556 and 176.376). If we are to believe Figures 1 and 2, the pressure curve is smooth then, with a pressure around 7.5 mbar, but for MSL Sol 40 on September 16 at Ls 172.3 the average pressure was 8.04 mbar, quite well above the interpolated data for VL-2. There were other days well above the curve too. On MSL Sol 35 the average pressure was at 7.99 mbar for Ls 169.5. For MSL Sols 19 to 21 it was between 7.85 and 7.9 mbar for Ls 160.4 to 161.4. So we have 4 days (shown in Figure 1) that don't fit the previous curve, and of course, we also have the issue of 5 days when the REMS Team was reporting pressures between 742 mbar (hPA) and 747 hPa. It might be easy to simply write these pressures off as silly mistakes, especially because the people preparing the REMS report for the public made careless mistakes with the month on Mars, and have published winds that are not likely correct. But given that the weather makes no sense with most of the (low) pressures posted, it cannot be ruled out that there is a rebel on the REMS Team who has been trying to tell us something that disagrees with accepted presure beliefs. We alerted JPL immediatey when the first weird pressure was published on September 1, 2012, but the similar high pressures continued to be reported until September 6. We are aware that we are not the only people who brought this to the immediate attention of JPL. The REMS Team works for them. 

Figure 1 below The top and bottom curves show pressure fluctuations over 4 Martian years at Viking 1 and 2 sites. The starting and ending pressures for Phoenix are also represented by stars and a straight line connecting them. It can be seen that the Phoenix data most closely matches Viking 2; and that the pressures reported for MSL Curiosity are also close to the pressures seen at the same position in the Martian orbit around the sun. This composite figure is adapted from the Tillman, Viking Computer Facility, University of Washington; for Phoenix from Nelli et al., 2009, and for MSL from the REMS Team and Ashima Research. MSL Curiosity and Phoenix both carried similar Vaisala pressure transducers. For MSL Curiosity there is no ability to measure pressure above 11.5 mbar. See Figure 5 in Annex I for an inclusion of MSL Sols 15 to 87 which covers Ls 158.8 to 199.8. Based in part on deliberately published false wind and day length calculations by the REMS Team and Ashima Research (from August 2012 until their corrections in May, 2013), we suspect that MSL pressures published were a fudged approximation based on the accepted Viking pressure curves above rather than legitimate pressure readings. Note: the black MSL pressure curve shown above is based on amended pressures published by the REMS Team up through the end of it Martian Year 1 in June, 2014. The important exception is at Ls 9 (sol 370 on August 21, 2013) when pressure pegged out at 11.49 mbar.

Figure 2 below. Pressurres reported by the REMS Team from Ls158.8 through Ls 199.8.

Figure 3 below. There was an early data conflict. The pressure for Ls 160.9 was seen at 7.85 hPa, but this date was not seen on the Ashima Research data record.

TABLE 2 Pressure at various elevations on Mars based on a scale height of 10.8 and a pressure at Mars Areoid of 6.1 mbar. Atmospheric pressure decreases exponentially with altitude. In determining pressure for Earth, the formula for scale height is p = p0e-(h/h0) where p = atmospheric pressure (measured in bars on Earth), h = height (altitude), P0 = pressure at height h = 0 (surface pressure), and H0 = scale height.