MARS CORRECT BASIC REPORT - SECTIONS 14.4 TO 14.5

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MSL Air and Ground Temperature Differences, MSL Diurnal Temperature Variation. Posted on 2/18/2017. It is now out of date.

THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AFTER GROUND TEMPERATURE LOWS WERE PUBLISHED THAT ARE IMPOSSIBLY LOW. THE NEW VERSION IS FOUND AT http://davidaroffman.com/photo5_16.html. PLEASE READ THAT.

 

14.4 MSL Air and Ground Temperature Differences.

        The REMS Team states that Mars undergoes very extreme gradients between the ground and the atmosphere at 1.5 m above the surface, with differences of ±40K.116 However inconsistent differences in air and ground temperature taken 1.5 meters apart suggest that ground temperatures from MSL are worthless. The ground temperature sensor likely broke on landing.

14.4 MSL Air and Ground Temperature Differences. The REMS Team states that Mars undergoes very extreme gradients between the ground and the atmosphere at 1.5 m above the surface, with differences of 40K.116 However inconsistent differences in air and ground temperature taken 1.5 meters apart suggest that ground temperatures from MSL are worthless. The ground temperature sensor likely broke on landing.

       As was shown in Figure 50B, the air and ground temperature sensors on MSL are deeply flawed because of their crude accuracies. For the air temperature sensor the accuracy is to 5° C (9° F) while in the ground temperature sensor its accuracy is just 10° C (18° F). The air temperature sensor has a resolution of 0.1 ° C, but for the ground sensor it’s a full 2° C. 

       On Figure 55 we see enormous variation in the high temperature differences recorded from Booms 1 and 2 (see Figure 56) vs. the ground temperatures for 1.5 meters below the booms. If NASA is correct then the average pressure on Mars at areoid is about 6.1 mbar with pressures at MSL (about 4.4 km below areoid) ranging between about 7.3 mbar and 9.25 mbar (compared to a 1,013.25 mbar average pressure on Earth at sea level). With such low, near-vacuum pressures, we should expect temperature differences between 1.5 meters and the ground to be fairly consistent from day to day, but that's not at all what the data shows. In the summer the difference in temperature between the two elevations was as little as 2° C and as much as 26° C. In the winter it was as little as 1° C and as much as 30° C.

        JPL notes that in its graph of plots with daily minimum and maximum of ground temperature measured by REMS, a change in the pattern just after Sol 120 corresponds to Curiosity driving onto a type of ground with higher thermal inertia -- thus cooling off more slowly in the evening and warming up more slowly in the morning. They write that, the higher thermal inertia of this area was predicted from orbital infrared measurements and is likely due to greater abundance of exposed bedrock relative to soil or sand." That's fine, but we would still not expect such radical variation in differences of air and ground temperatures to occur as often as they are shown on Figure 55.

       While there are air temperature sensors on Booms 1 and 2 of MSL, a ground temperature sensor is only found on Boom 1 (see Figure 56) which was damaged on landing.

Figure 56: Location of meteorological sensors on Booms 1 and 2 on MSL.

       No ground temperatures were published by the REMS Team or JPL until about 9 months after landing. When they suddenly appeared I asked JPL public affairs man Guy Webster about where they suddenly came from, He asserted that “Damage on landing did not include the infrared sensor that provides ground temp information. Ground temps through about Sol 200 were charted in April on the bottom half of http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16913.” Given that we had already successfully prevailed upon him and JPL to alter all (never-changing) wind data for MSL from 7.2 km/hour from the east to Not Available, and we had likewise succeeded in having him alter all never-changing sunrise/sunset times to line up with calculations that my son (David) and I had done, it was and remains our belief that JPL should likewise dump its ground temperature readings and replace them too with N/A. If they were more reliable we could likely use the differences between air and ground to help calculate air density (and pressure). But the simple fact appears to be that the data is not reliable.

          MSL has given us fantastic pictures of Mars, great geological data and new understanding about water just under the surface in many places (as with a frozen fresh-water sea at Utopia Planitia that has an area of the State of New Mexico). In some cases the proximity of liquid water to the surface likely affects ground temperature, but the ground temperature sensor is not sufficient to establish it.

       The most important data about Mars remains obscure - weather data. We have no reliable surface wind data after the Viking 1 and 2 landers of the late 1970's. We have no reliable ground temperature data, no reliable pressure data, and no reliable relative humidity data. We had 36 years of wrong sky color, from 1976 until 2012 that was ordered by former NASA Director James Fletcher. Further, no lander after Vikings 1 and 2 has included a life-detection experiment, although those two landers (4,000 miles apart) apparently did detect life. The clearest thing detected about Mars so far seems to be the stonewalling that has gone on for four decades with respect to giving us accurate weather data and a commitment to send people there. Hopefully either Elon Musk of SpaceX or President Trump will alter the status quo.

14.5 MSL Diurnal Temperature Variation

       Figure 57 shows the temperature data released by NASA for the summer of MSL Year 2 and the winter of MSL Years 2 to 3. Summer in the southern hemisphere occurs in months 10, 11 and 12. There are 154 days in MSL's summer and 179 sols in MSL's winter. Winter in the southern hemisphere occurs n months 4,5, and 6. Before analyzing the data it must again be noted that the ground temperature sensor at MSL is only accurate to 10K/10°C/18°F. See Figure 50B. On Figure 57 we see that air temperatures drop more degrees at night (68.0432°C) in summer than in winter (62.1073 °C) although lows are colder in the winter than in the summer. Our record for MSL Year 2 Summer are maintained at our MarsCorrect.com site at http://marscorrect.com/photo4_11.html. There is a PDF version available as Annex O to this Report at http://marscorrect.com/ANNEX%20O.pdf.  The record for MSL Year 2 to 3 Winter is maintained at our MarsCorrect.com site at http://marscorrect.com/photo2_29.html. A PDF version is available as Annex Q to this Report at http://marscorrect.com/ANNEX%20Q.pdf.

       We wanted to get an idea of how cold it would get in the dark so we could compare it with darkness on the Earth’s moon. Daytime on one side of the moon lasts about 13 and a half days, followed by 13 and a half nights of darkness. The sunlit surface can reach 123° C. The "dark side of the moon" can have temperatures dipping to -153° C. The moon only tilts on its axis about 1.54 degrees so there are places at the lunar poles that never see daylight.  The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter measured temperatures of -238° C in craters at the south pole and -247° C (-412.6° F/26.15K) in a crater at the northern pole. That’s the coldest temperature recorded in the solar system.

       How do these temperatures compare with Mars? The REMS Team indicates that Mars average surface temperature is -53.15° C and varies widely over the course of a Martian day, from -128.185°C during the polar night to +26.85° C on the equator at midday at the closest point in its orbit around the Sun, with diurnal variations of up to 80°C to 100°C (https://cab.inta-csic.es/rems/intrument-description/ground-temperature-sensor/).  As the coldest lunar temperatures are so much colder than the coldest Martian temperatures it’s obvious that either the Martian atmosphere or warmth from below the surface is keeping Mars relatively warm at night. The coldest temperatures for the first 29 Martian months of MSL operation on Mars are shown on Table 16.

TABLE 16 – COLDEST AIR AND GROUND TEMPERATURES FOR THE FIRST 29 MARTIAN MONTHS OF MSL OPERATIONS ON MARS

YEAR

SEASON

MONTH

AIR TEMP LOW °C

GROUND TEMP HIGH °C

1

WINTER

6

-78

-87

1

SPRING

7

-76

-84

1

SPRING

8

-69

-80

1

SPRING

9

-68

-73

1

SUMMER

10

-73

-73

1

SUMMER

11

-79

-73

1

SUMMER

12

-78

-87

1

FALL

1

-82

-95

1

FALL

2

-86

-93

1

FALL

3

-88

-101

1

WINTER

4

-87

-97

1

WINTER

5

-75

-98

2

WINTER

6

-80

-96

2

SPRING

7

-78

-84

2

SPRING

8

-75

-75

2

SPRING

9

-76

-76

2

SUMMER

10

-76

-76

2

SUMMER

11

-78

-86

2

SUMMER

12

-81

-83

2

FALL

1

-84

-92

2

FALL

2

-84

-85

2

FALL

3

-90

-94

2

WINTER

4

-89

-100

3

WINTER

5

-84

-89

3

WINTER

6

-80

-85

3

SPRING

7

-78

-78

3

SPRING

8

-74

-75

3

SPRING

9

-78

-77

3

SUMMER

10

-81

-80

During the first 29 Martian months of MSL operations air temperature the coldest monthly temperatures ranged from -68°C (-90.4°F) to -90°C (-130°F). For the less certain ground temperatures NASA presents us with a range from -73°C (-99.4°F) to -101°C (-149.8°F). The average of the coldest monthly lows for air temperature is -79.4282°C (-110.97076°F).  For ground temperatures it’s -85.2414°C (-121.43452°F). With respect to CO2 on Earth, it freezes at -78.5°C (-109.3°C), but even at the station at Vostok in Antarctica where the coldest temperature on Earth was recorded at -89.2°C (-128.6°F) dry ice did not form because the station is at 3,288 meters (10,787 feet) above sea level. At Vostok pressure would be down to about 676 Pa. At sea level the partial pressure at -78.5°C (-109°F), that equilibrium occurs is at a partial pressure of CO2 of 760 mm Hg (1,013.25 Pa), one atmosphere. Below that pressure, there isn’t enough abundance of CO2 molecules in the vapor phase for collisions with the solid surface to occur at a fast enough rate to make up for the ones that escaped; so the solid CO2; dry ice, will continue to sublimate.117  


 

Figure 57 below shows a graph of air diurnal temperature drops in degrees Celsius for MSL Year 2 summer (orange) and MSL Year 2 to 3 winter (blue). It can be seen that although there are exceptions to the rule, in general temperature drops were greater from day to night in the summer (with an average drop of 68.0342 C) than in the winter (when the average drop was 62.1073 C).

14.5.1. Why does the temperature fall more degrees at MSL in summer nights than winter nights? Note, it is of course true that winter nights are colder than summer nights at MSL, but the surprising phenomenon of a larger drop in degrees in summer than in winter is noted above in Figure 57. This seemed strange given the fact that nights are longer by about 32 minutes in MSL’s winter than summer, giving more time for the temperature to decline, and yet the rate of air cooling slowed then as the temperature seemed to head toward a limit imposed the heat retained in the ground or in the atmosphere. Normally the denser the air would be, the harder it would be to cool it.

            What do the two seasons look like with respect to the freezing point of water which is similar on Mars and Earth even though the boiling point appears to be much lower on Mars than on Earth (see Figure 43E)? 

       In the summer all but 11 out of the 146 sols with data had ground temperatures above freezing. Of the 11 remaining sols all ranged between 0° C and -2° C. For air temperatures in the summer there were only 13 sols above freezing and another 12 sols that reached 0° C.

       In the winter 70 out of the 177 sols with data had ground temperatures above freezing. Another 11 reached 0° C. For air temperatures in the winter there were only 7 sols above freezing and just another 1 that reached 0° C.