MSL Pressure Data Credibility Problems.
MSL Data, with corrections applied, looks too much like a clone of Viking 2. It still does not explain the weather plainly seen. (Updated 3/18/2014)
THIS ARTICLE, WHICH ESSENTIALLY REPEATS ANNEX I OF OUR REPORT, CRITIQUE OF NASA'S MARTIAN WEATHER DATA, WITH EMPHASIS ON DATA, WAS WRITTEN SOLEY BY BARRY S. ROFFMAN. ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ABOUT IT SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO BARRYSROFFMAN@GMAIL.COM.
On August 6, 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory Rover Curiosity landed on Mars. No pressure data was released by the NASA or by the REMS team at the Centro de Astrobiologia until August 19, 2012. At that time the information shown on Figure 1 was released for MSL Sols 9 to 13. Figure 1 was published in conjunction with temperature data on Figure 2; however it only includes MSL Sols 10 to 11.5.
Figure 1 – MSL Pressure data for MSL Sols 10.5 to 13.
No further data was released to the public until August 22, 2012 when a REMS Team chart was published for Sol 15 (August 22, 2012). See Figure 5 for all pressures discussed from here on. The next pressure released was for Sol 19, then two days later for Sol 21, at which time pressures and other weather data began to be published on a more regular basis, along with numerous obvious errors that frankly seemed to indicate a less than professional approach to data returned from Mars (see Figure 6 below). There were initial indications that data would soon be released in proper fashion at the NASA PDS site, but as of it took until early May to July 3, 2013 until all MSL data was revised before any conclusions could start to be made about the weather at Gale Crater on Mars. What emerged was nothing like what was originally claimed. All winds were eliminated and simply listed as Not Available as I had demanded. The sunrise and sunset times were totally wrong until May, and they were changed to match the times calculated by my son David after I came up with crude, but fairly accurate estimates that looked nothing at all like those times posted by Ashima Research for the REMS Team. The REMS Team pressures were altered (and on Sol 370 there was evidence that the pressure transducer had pegged out at the maximum value that it was built to record). The REMS Team also radically revised down all temperatures it had previously published. In short, the REMS Team has given us little reason to believe any weather data that it has posted for Mars,
A FIRST LOOK AT THE DATA FROM MSL SOLS 15 THROUGH 120.
Most of the data shown on Figures 4 and 5 is a close approximation of pressures seen at Viking 2. Viking 2 landed at about 4,505 meters below Mars areoid. MSL Curiosity touched down about 4,400 meters below areoid. In fact, the pressure curves seen for sol-averaged pressures are in general so close that they either (1) confirm Viking pressures, or (2) suggest an identical transducer failure due to a clogged dust filter, or (3) are a manifestation of disinformation.
A close examination of data released indicates that there are so many problems with it as to raise a question of whether or not the REMS Team, or someone on it, was trying to tell the world that Mars has far more pressure than was ever indicated before, and that this pressure is why we see all the weather that do on Mars in conjunction with dust devils, dust storms, moving sand dunes, sand filling in rover tracks, snow seen falling at Phoenix, altocumulus clouds 16 km above Pathfinder, and spiral storms over Arsia Mons discussed in the Basic Report.
The initial concerns just raised are based on the rather odd set of data originallt published by the REMS Team for Sols 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 from September 1, 2012 to September 5, 2012. For these five days pressure reported suddenly increased from a previous report of 7.4 hPa (Sol 24 given as August 30) to 742 hPa. On September 5 for Sol 29 the pressure reported was 747 hPa, but this dropped to 7.47 hPa on September 6, 2012.
The initial logical explanation for the above oddity is that for five days whoever was responsible for REMS reports simply confused Pa and hPa. 7.47 hPa equals 747 hPa. There were many people (including our father-son team) that noticed this mistake and brought it to the immediate attention of Guy Webster at JPL and I assume the REMS Team, but the anomaly persisted for those five days. The pressures equaled what would be seen on Earth at an altitude as low as 8,192.6 feet (2,497.1 meters).
To understand what is really going on at the MSL, we need to see the hourly pressures and temperatures. By November 29, 2013 we have only seen Figure 1 for pressure variation over sols 9.5 to 13, and Figure 2 with its temperature graph for 1.5 sols. We also have the words of the first REMS Team report at http://www.cab.inta-csic.es/rems/Doc%20Weekly%20Report/WR_report1_english_30092012.pdf. It states:
This first weather report covers the first weeks after landing (5 Aug2012) until mission Sol 19 (25 Aug 2012)... Pressure measurements show a mean pressure of roughly 730 Pa.
The pressure data also show a very significant daily variation of pressure. The minimum is near 685 Pa and the maximum near 785 Pa. The pattern of pressure change across the Sol is very similar from Sol-to-Sol. The majority of the variation is due to large scale waves in the atmosphere called tides. These tides are different from tides in the Earth's ocean because they are forced by heating due to the sun rather than the gravitational pull of the Moon.
Rebuttal to the Tides Concept. While it is reassuring to see that the REMS team links pressures to temperatures, they miss our point that just as we saw with the Vikings, as is seen in the very tiny bit of data that the REMS team allowed us to see, the peak pressure comes very close to the time of minimum temperature when we would expect to see the most heat applied to the Vaisala transducer from the RTG. Likewise, pressure declines rapidly as we approach the point where the ground temperature is actually above the freeing point of water when no heater is needed. This is shown on Figures 3A to 3D. As with the Vikings, we contend that this pattern is only likely to occur if the dust filter for the transducer clogged on landing, thus leading to the heating and cooling of air in a sealed container out of contact with ambient air.
Looking back at Figure 1 in this Annex and looking ahead at most of Figure 5, we would expect to see a very slow but steady growth in pressure as we move away from winter at the south pole of Mars and move into spring there. However, originally as Figure 4 shows, there were four early pressures for MSL that were significantly off the expected curve. They were for MSL Sols 19, 21, 35 and 40. For those days the pressure recorded exceeded what was seen at the lower Viking 2 by about 0.5 millibars (0.5 hPa). On July 3, 2013 the REMS Team magically (or was that poltically?) altered all these pressures as follows:
Original Pressure (mbar)
Revised Pressure (mbar)given on July 3, 2013
7.19 (but Sol 1 was 7.61)
Figure 3A to 3D – As was seen with the Vikings, temperature and pressure were inversely related for the Mars Science Laboratory in the very limited REMS Team data released.
As is noted under Figure 4, the black pressure approximation MSL pressure curve shown under the Viking 2 Year 1 and 2 pressure curves does not include any pressure data for MSL Sol 1 to 9.5. This is because no pressure data was published for this critical period that might indicate anything about whether the dust filter for the FMI’s Vaisala pressure transducer jammed on landing. There were several other MSL Sols for which data was missing. When initial missing data is combined with off expected pressure curve data for MSL Sols 19, 21, 35 and 40, and pressures that were reported as being between 742 and 747 hPa between MSL Sols 25 and 29, it can be seen that it took a considerable period of time for a consistent pressure picture to emerge.
Figure 4 – Viking 1, Viking 2, Phoenix and MSL Pressure Record. Note the MSL pressure spike on its Sol 370 (Ls 9, August 21, 2013): 11.49 mbar, the highest pressure ever seen on Mars and one that has the pressure transducer maxed out at its capacity.
Figure 5 – MSL pressures reported by the REMS Team for Ls 158.8 to 199.8.
What we are looking at is a pattern of missing data up front, missing data after it, misreported data, and data off the expected curve up front. See Figure 6. Then the pattern settles down to what we would expect based on the Viking 2 pressure curve. So long as this trend continues, we must finally come to the most essential question in this three year pursuit of the truth about Mars. The weather seen does not match the pressure advertised. Should we ignore it and march to the tune of the curves on Figure 4? Since the MSL curve is essentially what was predicted, then unless the match exists because the pressure sensors all clogged in exactly the same fashion with the same amount of air trapped behind the dust filters for each transducer, the curves would seem to either reflect the strange truth, or they must be the product of human engineering (i.e., deliberate disinformation). This is a dangerous assertion to even contemplate. While it is beyond the scope of this report to attempt to prove such a charge, there is an obvious question of motive that will immediately arise from the question being considered at all.
It is well known that initial reports of positive life signs seen by Viking 1 and 2’s Labeled Release (LR) life detection experiments were improperly dismissed for 30 years until the rejection of organic chemicals found by the Vikings was overturned by Dr. Christopher McKay of NASA Ames on January 4, 2011. It is also well known that that MSL has the assignment of looking for life. But there is an old bit of wisdom. Be careful about what you’re looking for, because you just might find it (and it might not be so pleasant).
NASA has done much to prepare us for a Mars with ancient, primitive life. When green patches were seen on rocks during the early color transmissions from Viking 1, and the suggestion was made that they might be lichens (see Section 12.2 of our Basic Report and Levin, G.V. (1997), this was enough to raise some eyebrows. But what if something more was seen; something with unpleasant implications? What then? Would it serve as justification for hiding or altering data that would lead to an accurate portrait of Martian history? There was a report published by the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2011) with disturbing implications. It can be found here: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2011/pdf/1097.pdf. The paper argues for “Evidence for a large, natural, paleo-nuclear reactor on Mars, similar to one in the region of Oklo in Africa a billion years ago.”
The paper is controversial enough. Unfortunately its author (who we are very familiar with) was in a hurry to capitalize on his sensational paper (which made the national news). He quickly followed up on his new found fame with a poorly edited book that revealed his real thoughts – that altered the picture of what had happened on Mars from a natural event in the ground to an (unnatural) nuclear airburst. This is discussed further on my site HERE.
In science (as with quantum mechanics) sometimes the bizarre turns out to be true. It is beyond the scope of this report to comment on the above nuclear paper, but given the questionable way that pressure data has been handled by the REMS Team, the known structural problems associated with Tavis and Vaisala pressure transducers, and the weather that simply does not make sense with pressures under 10 hPa, it may be worthwhile to examine the nuclear hypothesis in conjunction with a full review of Martian air pressure data.