MSL Pressure Data Credibility Problems.

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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.

Figure 2 – MSL temperature data for Sols 10 to 11.5.

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:

MSL Sol

Original Pressure (mbar)

Revised Pressure (mbar)given on July 3, 2013

19

7. 85

7.19 (but Sol 1 was 7.61)

21

7.9

7.41

35

7.99

7.49

40

8.04

7.53

 


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.

MSL WEATHER FORECAST ISSUED BY BARRY S. ROFFMAN ON 9 DECEMBER 2012. Based in how the REMS team was releasing data by December 9, 2013, it appeared that pressure reported would max out for MSL at about 9.45 hPa to 9.5 hPa around on or around Ls 255 unless there was a major dust storm (in which case, pressure would max out at 9.9 to 10 hPa). Ls 255 will occur on January 31, 2013. However, the zero variation in winds reported by the REMS Team and Ashima was since taken down. Likewise at that time we did not know about high relative humidity at Gale Crater or 2 pints of water in every cubic foot of soil there and likely everywhere else on Mars. 
 
UPDATE OF NOVEMBER 29, 2013. When the above forecast was issued the average pressure was about 8.654 hPa. By February 2013 the REMS Team reported that pressure reached what was a maximum so far with 9.25 hPa on January 29. It was 9.2447 hPa on January 31, 2013 for what was labeled Sol 174 (although, in typical REMS/Ashima fashion they published another January 31 report for a Sol numbered 173 with a pressure of 9.20 hPa). However on July 3, 2013 the REMS Team altered all its posted data. The newer report that they issued showed that pressure reached 9.4 hPA (940 Pa) on February 19, 2013 (Sol 192). Pressures were unavailable for the next two days. No dust storms had reached MSL, nor have we seen the normal spiral cloud and eye wall over Arsia Mons. The pressure seemed to reach its peak less than three weeks after the predicted January 31 date that I issued back on December 9, but it was very close to the amount that we predicted to be put out by the REMS Team. In fact, using the 9.45 to 9.5 hPa that we predicted, 9.4 hPa predicted is an agreement of 99.47% to 98.95%. However in estimating the maximum pressure based on Viking 2 pressure curve, there were global dust storms then, but not this year. By July it was apparent that the parties responsible for Mars weather reporting were also revising temperatures downward significantly in an effort to produce (artificial) results that were more in lined with pre-MSL beliefs. We do not believe that all MSL weather scientists are born liars, but we believe that whenever data is produced that is a little too friendly to supporting life on Mars now, or in the past, the data is being changed on a regular basis to squash those hopes and discourage serious efforts to procure funding for a manned mission to Mars.
       Eventually this battle may require transfer from an academic internet forum to a court of law, but it is still unclear if the guilty party is NASA itself or technicians trying to cover their butts. My best guess now is that one of two things is going on. Either the Vaisala pressure sensor has malfunctioned or the REMS Team is feeding NASA, JPL and Ashima Research nonsense based on where they think the pressures and temperatures should be based on the Viking pressure curves shown on Figure 1 below; or JPL has ordered the deliberate publication of disinformation. Certainly the easiest to prove bits of disinformation published were the sunrise and sunset times which were solely the product of Ashima Research. They had been notified by me (on multiple occasions) about this problem, and except for a single instance on October 2, 2012 for Sol 56 when they listed sunrise at 5:32 AM and sunset at 5:09 PM (also wrong) they long insisted on sunrise as 6 AM and sunset at 5 PM for every day. The length of day light on Mars has been shown on our weather reports for October 1, 2012 forward in a yellow column. In May 2012 Ashima accepted out figures and issued a weak excuse. In July, 2013 the REMS Team also started to use our figures (within a minute or two due to their rounding off both sunrise and sunset to the nearest minute).
 

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.

Figure 6 From the beginning on, data reporting by the REMS team and Ashima Research has been less than stellar.