MARS CORRECT BASIC REPORT - Sections 4.1 to 4.1.2

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LS of Minimum and Maximum Pressures. Updated on 3/9/2021.

4.1. Annual Pressure Fluctuations Recorded by Viking 1, Viking 2, and Phoenix -   Maximum Pressure in the Northern Winter?

       Leighton and Murray postulated that the Martian polar caps, largely carbon dioxide, control the average atmospheric pressure on Mars.40 They wrote this a decade before Viking 1 touched down on Mars. Supposedly CO2 freezes out of the atmosphere at the poles in winter. This drops air pressure.  However, it appears from Figure 21B that air pressure actually increased in the Northern hemisphere’s winter.

       The usual response is that the increase in pressure is caused by what was frozen carbon dioxide at the South Pole subliming due to the arrival of summer there. Viking 1’s latitude was 22.8º North (still tropics on Mars), but Viking 2 landed at about 48º North, much closer to the North Pole, yet pressures there were still higher in winter although CO2 should freeze out at the North Pole in its winter.

4.1.1. Ls of minimum pressure.

In conducting the research for this report, and most especially in seeing how our questioning of pressures reported by JPL seemed to cause JPL to alter those pressures (see Table X earlier) to match the Viking pressure curves shown on Figure 21B, it became apparent that to question the Viking pressure curves was tantamount to heresy in JPL eyes. These curves were primarily due to the efforts of Professor James Tillman at the University of Washington’s Viking Computer Facility. In explaining the pressure curves Tillman wrote: 

       “The first minimum of pressure, about sol 100 (aerocentric longitude (Ls) 145) corresponds to the maximum amount of carbon dioxide sublimation in the South Polar Region, while the second, about sol 434 (Ls 346), corresponds to northern winter. Because of the elipticity of the Martian orbit, the difference in the semiannual heating and cooling produces this semiannual difference in the amount of carbon dioxide in the polar regions.”41

        For absolute minimum pressure seen by landers on Mars, we now have 5 Martian years of data for the time around Ls 145 – one for Viking 1, two for Viking 2, and three for MSL. The (suspect) data is summed up on Table 7. Average Ls =148.44767.  It appears that the latest minimum pressure (707 Pa) occurred at Ls 145 on MSL Sol 2665 on February 4, 2020.

4.1.2. Ls of maximum pressure.

       For Vikings 1 and 2 there was only a variation of about two solar degrees (Ls 277.724 to Ls 279.93) between maximum pressures seen. But for MSL from its Year 1 to Year 2 the Ls of the maximum (non-revised) pressure of 925 Pa for Year 1 and 2 shifted from 252 to 257. The statement above was valid until Sol 1,160 when JPL temporarily altered an 897 Pa pressure at Ls 66 to 1,177 Pa (more than the pressure sensor on MSL was then rated to measure). They reported an even higher pressure (1200 Pa/12 mbar) for Sol 1,784 and higher still pressure for Sol 1,294 (1294 Pa). As we predicted they revised all three pressures down to 899, 898 and 883 Pa respectively. The pressure for Ls 66 in MSL Year 1 was 903 Pa. The three high pressures here can’t be explained by having a decimal misplaced as was the case in September 1 to 5, 2012 when 742 to 747 hPa was altered to 742 to 747 Pa. Clearly the sol 1,160 and 1,161 high pressures are related to serious “personnel issues” within the NASA organization. The problem is captured on Figure 21A. For MSL Year 3, after four revisions, the surviving max pressure was 911 Pa on Sol 1517 @ Ls 259.  Previous revisions were from 945 to 752 Pa and 1154 to 752 Pa (sols 1300 to 1301 at Ls 131), 921 to 910 Pa (sol   1492, Ls 242), and 928 to 907 Pa (Ls 249).

Figure 21A below – 1,177 and 1,200 maximum pressures published exceeded the 1,150 Pa limit of the Vaisala pressure sensor on MSL. Later the REMS Team put out a pressure of 1,154 Pa for Sol 1301, but revised it to 752 Pa after we published a prediction at that they would do so. The high pressures are probably errors but they certainly point to personnel problems within the NASA/JPL/REMS Team organization.

       Overlooking the pressures shown on Figure 21B, the total variation for Ls of maximum pressure is from Ls 257 (MSL Year 2) to Ls 279.93 (Viking 2). This is a difference of 22.93 solar degrees. See Table 8. Given the small variation in daily pressures from MSL Year 1 and 2 (about 2.5 Pa per sol with a standard deviation of about 2.115 Pa for the first 118 sols of MSL Year 2), the large variation for the sol of maximum pressure is somewhat surprising and may be another hint that the pressure measurements are flawed. There was no variation in maximum pressure between MSL Year 1 and 2. Both were given as 925 Pa.

Figure 21B BELOW The top and bottom curves show pressure fluctuations over 4 Martian years at Viking 1 and 2 sites. An approximation of the MSL data for its first year is in black between them (see Figure 23 for an accurate MSL pressure plot). On the left is a reproduction of the Figure 12A Phoenix data. The Phoenix and MSL data most closely matches Viking 2. Adapted from the Tillman, Viking Computer Facility, from Nelli et al., 2009, and from the REMS Team and Ashima Research. MSL and Phoenix carried similar Vaisala pressure transducers. We suspect that MSL pressures published were fudged approximations founded on the accepted Viking pressure curves shown above rather than legitimate pressure readings. The 11.49 mbar pressure for Sol 370 was removed by JPL after we made an issue about it. As of December 13, 2015 the 11.77 mbar and 12 mbar pressures for Sols 1160 and 1161 (November 10-12, 2015) remained although they both exceed the 11.5 mbar capability of the transducer on MSL, but they were reduced later.



Pressures at Ls 90 and minimum pressures seen by

VL-1,  VL-2 and MSL



Mbar pressure at Ls 90

Mbar Minimum






Year 1


(7.51 at Ls 97)




Year 1

N/A (7.72 at Ls 118)




Year 2

N/A (8.06 at Ls 100)


148.48 and 



Year 1

(June 13, 2014)


*7.30 on Sol 1 changed to N/A. Then 7.32 on Sol 664

150 changed to N/A. Then Ls 147.


Year 2 (May 7 to 9, 2016)


7.32 on Sols 1334, 1335 and 1336.

Ls 148 to 149


Year 3 (March 25, 2018)


7.15 on Sol 2002



Year 4 (February 4, 2020)


7.07 on Sol 2665 on 4 Feb 2020


Average Ls of minimum


        Since there is no ocean on Mars to slow the time of maximum cooling it would seem like the coldest time in the southern hemisphere would be at Ls 90, yet we see that minimum pressures can occur over 65 degrees later as Mars moves through its 360 degree orbit of the sun. If the average minimum pressure seen at Ls 149 is correct, that’s just 31 degrees short of spring in the southern hemisphere at Ls 180.

        As is indicated on Table 7, the data available to the public from the Viking Computer Facility (and Professor Tillman) lacks information about Ls 90 for both Vikings. However for Viking 1 there was a 1 mbar decrease in pressure from Ls 97 to Ls 150.156 (7.51 mbar down to 6.51 mbar). For Viking 2 Year 1 pressure decreased 0.43 mbar from Ls 118 to Ls 145 and for Viking 2 Year pressure decreased 0.769 mbar from Ls 100 to Ls 148.48 and 155.393. These Figures are based on essentially hourly temperature readings (25 per sol). For MSL we only have questionably revised daily average pressures, but from Ls 90 to Ls 147 there was a decrease of 1.25 mbar in Year 1 and 1.17 mbar in Year 2.   What kind of pressure difference should we expect just due to the difference in elevation of Vikings 1, Viking 2 and MSL?  Based on calculations shown earlier on Table 1, we offer Table 8.


TABLE 8 – Landers and Expected Pressures Based on Landing Altitude


Km below areoid

Elevation below

VL – 1

Expected Average pressure based on 6.1 mbar at areoid with a scale height of 10.8







Minimum pressure stated.


Maximum pressure stated (after MSL revisions removing 12, 11.77, 11.49, 9.54, 9.4, 9.37 and 11.67 mbar).

Average of high and low pressures

Pressure increase from VL – 1

VL -1



8.535 mbar


6.51 @ Ls 150.156

9.57 @ Ls 277.724



MSL Year 1



9.168 mbar


7.32 @ Ls 664*

9.25 @ Ls 252



MSL Year 2



9.168 mbar


7.32 @ Ls 1334-1336

9.25 again @ Ls 257



MSL Year 3



8.926 mbar


7.15 @ Ls 148

9.11 @ Ls 259




Year 4





7.07 @ Ls 145

Not yet available



VL – 2



9.257 mbar


7.27 @148.48 and 


10.72 @ Ls 279.93




Year 5






8.9397 mbar



7.07 @ Ls 145


8.96 @ Ls 256






Table 8 – Landers and Expected Pressures Based on Landing Altitude.  *Originally JPL published a pressure of 7.05 mbar for Sol 1 at Ls 150, and 7.18 mbar for Sol 9 at Ls 155. See Table 7 notes.


       Using a scale height of 10.8, and an average pressure of 6.1 mbar at areoid, the average annual  pressure at Viking 1 should be about 8.535 mbar, while for Viking 2 we would expect about 9.257 mbar. The difference is 0.722 mbar (see Table 2 earlier in this report).  Viking 2 is estimated to have landed at 48.269° North (there are slight differences published for this figure), whereas (see Table 9), it got much colder (down to -117.34° C/155.81K in Year 2) on the winter solstice (Ls 270°) than what was experienced at Viking 1 (-95.14° C/ 178.01K in year 1), which landed in the tropics at 22.697° North. These temperatures are still too warm for snow to fall as frozen carbon dioxide. The temperatures required for that is supposedly -128° C (145.15K) or colder, which is associated with a latitude of 70º N or higher.42 How long would there be no daylight at all at 70º N or S?

       Annex L shows how day length varies with Ls and latitude on Mars.  For the southern hemisphere at 70º S there is no sunrise from Ls 54.2 until Ls 125.9. For MSL Year 1 this was from November 24, 2013 to May 5, 2014 (157 Martian sols); and for Year 2 it was from October 15, 2015 to March 22, 2016. Further south time in darkness lengthens. Due to the eccentricity of the Martian orbit, the spans of darkness are not the same at both poles. Martian months, each 30º of Ls position apart, vary from 46 sols at perihelion to 66 sols to aphelion. The South Pole is in cold darkness for 371 sols while the North Pole is dark for 297 sols, a difference of 74 sols. After May 5, 2014 (Ls 125.9) at 70º S sunlight shines at that latitude and daylight lengthens between there and the Antarctic circle at 64.81º S, and yet MSL data backs Viking 1 and 2 data showing a decrease in worldwide pressure on Mars until at least Ls 145 – all supposedly due to carbon dioxide freezing at the South Pole. 

        On May 5, 2014 pressure at MSL was listed as 7.65 mbar. At Ls 145 pressure was down to 7.35 mbar. It actually went down after that to 7.30 mbar on Sol 668 at Ls 150. But weather data at the beginning of the MSL mission was later revised a lot. While later altered to N/A, originally the REMS Team published a pressure of 7.05 mbar for Sol 1 at Ls 150, and 7.18 mbar for Sol 9 at Ls 155.

       For MSL Year 3, on April 2, 2018, it looked like minimum pressure occurred at Ls 148 on March 25, 2018. The pressure was down to 7.15 mbar according to the REMS Team, however before posting this figure they had first published a pressure of 11.67 mbar (1,167 Pa) which we had mocked on our site. In fact, back on February 28, 2018 we predicted that on March 25, 2018 the REMS Team would publish a fake pressure of about 711 to 713 Pa on March 25, 2018. When they posted 1167 Pa, a pressure higher than an unaltered pressure that they allowed for the 2,001 sols before it, it looked like they were just playing with us directly. In short, we are saying that the REMS Team knows its data is fictitious, and they figure that nobody else who is important to them had the brains, nerve, or political inclination to call them on it. After NASA read our Figure 22B top cartoon, they altered their data. We document their Sol 2002 folly game on this issue at

For Viking 1 (22.697° North) looking at hourly pressures for the days around Ls 125.9 pressures were between 6.84 and 7.05 mbar. By Ls 145 the pressures for the day around then were down to between 6.68 and 6.96 mbar.43 For Viking 1 the minimum pressure (6.51 mbar) actually did not occur until Ls 150.156. That’s over 60 degrees of solar longitude past the winter solstice.

      For Viking 2 the hourly pressures for the sol around Ls 125.9 pressures were between 7.56 and 7.64 mbar, however as is addressed in great detail in Annex C to this Report (see, pressures do not appear to be reliable because they were generally stuck at 7.64 mbar. Annex C (pages C-18 to C-19) shows that in Viking 2 pressures were also stuck at Ls 125, but the pressure it was stuck at was 7.56 mbar, however due to data digitization (discussed in Section 2.6.1 and Table 4B of this report), pressures between 7.56 and 7.64 were generally not published (and if they were they were based on interpolation rather than actual transmitted data).

       For Viking 2, (at about 48º North) Ls 145 on Year 1 pressures were down to between 7.29 and 7.47 mbar. The 7.29 mbar pressure was reported for Ls 145.745 and it was the lowest pressure observed for Viking 2 in Year 1. For Viking 2 at Ls 145 pressures were stuck at 7.38 mbar (see page C-40 in Annex C to this report) for part of the Ls, but were often stuck at 7.47 mbar, the same pressure given for Viking 2 Year 1 at this Ls.44 For Viking 2 Year 2 the minimum pressure of 7.27 mbar was observed at Ls 148.48 and again as late as Ls 155.393, over 65 degrees past winter solstice. Read and Lewis note that, “the thermal inertia of the surface… takes some time to change its temperature and tends to lag behind the seasonal movement of the subsolar point,” but this much of a lag, given no ocean (at least on the surface), is enough to suggest that carbon dioxide at the poles is not the root cause of pressure fluctuations, assuming that pressure readings are not distorted by inadequately designed pressure transducers. At this Ls 155.393 at a latitude of 70º South where it is supposed to get cold enough for carbon dioxide to solidify in the winter there are already more than 8.4 hours of daylight each day.

Figure 22A below: There are many differences in the reports posted by the JPL REMS Team and Ashima Research before they ceased publication. Ashima claimed it took its data directly from MSL REMS. For Sol 668 REMS lists the pressure at 734 Pa with the Ls 150. Ashima showed 7.30 hPa (730 Pa) but gave the Earth date as June 21, 2014 rather than June 23, 2014.


Figure 22B - REMS plays games with the minimum pressure for MSL Year 3 on Sol 2002.

Brief Description

Table 9 Comparison of Viking 2 and Viking 2 Pressures for Ls 270. Note: For MSL at Ls 270 the maximum air temperature was -3C, maximum ground temperature was 5C; minimum air temperature was -68C and minimum ground temperature was -72C. Only one pressure was offered: 915 Pa (9.15 mbar).

Sol, however at 80º South there is no sunrise until about Ls 155.5 (see Table 10). The actual permanent polar ice cap is much further south, not centered on the South Pole and only about 350 to 400 km in diameter, although the seasonal (mostly water ice) south polar cap is closely centered on the South Pole and covers the surface up to a latitude of 70º South.45

Table 10

       Malen et al. (2001) calculated between 100 and 150 g/cm2 is deposited at 80º South each winter and is removed by sublimation each spring and summer.46At that latitude darkness extends from Ls 24.6 to Ls 155.4 (about 278 sols, from September 21, 2013 to July 3, 2014).       

       As indicated earlier, the driving idea behind Martian air pressure cycles seems to be the work of Leighton and Murray (1966), published ten years before any lander would be on Mars transmitting in situ pressures back to Earth. They postulated that the Martian polar caps, largely carbon dioxide, control the average atmospheric pressure on Mars. If they were right we might understand the almost even double hump curve (see Figure 23) of Martian pressure shown below (for each Martian year) based on how pressures at MSL were reported, but they were wrong about a number of things including their belief that that the permanent deposit of CO2 would be found in the north.40 One pole that is largely carbon dioxide ice and the opposite pole that is water ice should not produce such symmetrical pressure spikes twice each year. Having seen JPL alter data (often after prompting from us), we believe that the pressure curves seen on Figure 23 are due to unwarranted data manipulation and loyalty to Leighton and Murray’s 1966 discredited ideas.

Figure 23 Pressure curve for MSL Year One.

       Malin et al. supported a large surface reservoir of solid carbon dioxide, but point to high resolution of south polar regions acquired in 1999 and 2001 that suggest retreating solid carbon dioxide and global climate change. However, the picture painted by similar pressure curves in Figure 23 above may be challenged by the following synopsis found in the References and Notes section of the Malin et al. paper:

Although there is broad consensus that the southern residual cap is CO2, the general impression from the literature is that the material is thin and may occasionally completely sublime. The only evidence put forth for this variability is the ground-based detection of abundant water vapor during the 1969 southern summer47, an observation that would be at odds with the presence of CO2 ice upon which the atmospheric water vapor would tend to deposit. The Viking orbiters observed only trace amounts of water vapor in 197748, as would be expected in the presence of year-round CO2 ice, and an analysis of Mariner 9 infrared measurements indicated that the southern residual cap in 1971 and 1972 also retained CO2 frost throughout the summer49. These inconsistent observations50 have been taken as evidence of an inter-annual instability (42) and have been used to argue that Leighton and Murray’s prediction of a large surface reservoir is wrong,51 or that as yet unknown feedback processes between the other CO2 reservoirs (atmosphere, polar cap, carbonate rocks, and gas adsorbed onto fine-grained regolith materials) maintain the near-zero mass of the surface frost.49

       The Malin et al. article was published in 2001. Since then on September 26, 2013 NASA announced an MSL finding that,

        “A key finding is that water molecules are bound to fine-grained soil particles, accounting for about 2 percent of the particles’ weight at Gale Crater where Curiosity landed. This result has global implications, because these materials are likely distributed around the Red Planet.” As lead author Laurie Leshin, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute…put it, “that means astronaut pioneers could extract roughly 2 pints (0.946353 liters) of water out of every cubic foot (0.028317m³) of Martian dirt…” 52

       Water vapor in the atmosphere will be discussed later in conjunction with Figures 61 to 63 in Section 14 of this report. Relative humidity at Gale Crater varied from less than 10% to about 60%. Further, in 2011, we learned that, “It seems that previous models have greatly underestimated the quantities of water vapor at heights of 20–50 km, with as much as 10 to 100 times more water than expected at this altitude.” See

          What we may be looking at might be due to lack of information or confusion or inadequately designed equipment in earlier years. However, at times, as with the improper color of the Martian atmosphere portrayed by NASA (allegedly at the order of NASA Administrator Dr. James Fletcher at the landing of VL-1,) it is hard to believe that more of the data is not being colored by an agenda not in line with scientific integrity.53 Sky color problems are illustrated later in conjunction with 50A through 50I.

At the North Pole there is no more than a meter of frozen carbon dioxide in its winter, and there are about 8 meters of frozen carbon dioxide at the South Pole in its winter. There is no large perennial CO2 cap at either pole.54 Thus it’s hard to understand why the Figure 23 pressure curve derived from MSL data is almost symmetrical. Indeed, there seems to be a growing realization that there is not enough CO2 at the poles to control Martian air pressure in the fashion thought before. 

       Any attempt to calculate the temperature required for CO2 to freeze on Mars requires a correct understanding of pressure (and in particular partial pressure of CO2 there as well as temperature). On Earth the lowest temperature ever recorded -89.2º C/-128.56 º F (183.95K) was at the Vostok Station in Antarctica.55 The temperature required to freeze pure CO2 at 1 atmosphere of pressure (1,013.25 mbar) is -78.5º C (194.54 K), but carbon dioxide constitutes only .0004 atmospheric of partial pressure. At that low partial pressure a temperature of -140º C is required to produce solid carbon dioxide which is why the gas does not freeze anywhere on Earth. At the (NASA) expected pressure for the Martian South Polar area the temperature of all CO2 ice would be ~142K/ -131.15º C/ -204.07º F (Byrne, S. and Ingersol, A.P.).56

        All efforts to explain what is being seen in terms of rapid springtime CO2 ice retreat at the South Pole and weather in general are based on a need to fit what is seen with expected pressure based on published lander data. We argue that there are too many problems with weather seen for the pressures asserted by NASA to be true. Weather mysteries can best be resolved by exposing why the data is flawed.

       Given the fact that about a meter CO2 is condensing out of the atmosphere over the Martian North Pole in its winter, we might expect the pressure to not be as high there as it is in the tropics, where at least on Earth, the atmosphere is thicker anyway. But the average pressure between Ls 270° and 271° was 9.771 mbar for Viking 2’s Year 1 and 9.937 mbar for the same period for its Year 2.  During this same period for Viking 1 the average pressure was given as only 8.793 mbar. So for Year 1, the average pressure was 0.978 mbar higher than expected at Viking 2; and for Year 2 it was 1.114 mbar higher than projected. Whatever carbon dioxide was supposed to be sublimating at the South Pole where it was summer solstice did not seem to affect the much closer Viking 1 as much as it allegedly did the much further North Viking 2.

       The same problem was present again with MSL which sat at 4.59 º South (closest to the South Pole). There the average annual pressure should be around 9.168 mbar, and pressures should be higher or highest around Ls 270. The actual average reported pressure for Ls 270 was 9.1325 mbar. However, the REMS Team revised their data on July 3, 2013 to have average daily pressures vary at MSL between Ls 267 and Ls 272 to between 8.86 mbar at Ls 269 (MSL Sol 195 on February 22, 2013) and a high for the year of 9.40 mbar on Ls 268 for Sol 192 on February 19, 2013. This variation in pressure, 0.54 mbar over three days, seems quite high, but we discussed earlier an increase of 0.62 mbar in a single hour at Viking 1 at its sol 332.3 at Ls 286 (see Figures 4 and 16e and When we started to write about the 9.40 mbar pressure, which was off the predicted pressure curve, JPL revised it again. By June 17, 2014 JPL eliminated all data for MSL Sol 192 except sunrise and sunset times. Again, when pressure measured is not what was predicted they simply refuse to stand by what their sensors tell them. Ashima Research also revised its report to show no data for MSL Sol 192.