I don`t know about you but when I read articles about the exploration that is currently taking shape on Mars, it intrigues me. NASA scientists are really giving it their all to study every nook and cranny that exists on Mars. I believe they are trying to find our next habitable planet. I think with all the money going into the many projects that are happening on Mars we should send Real Estate agents up there to try to sell land to whoever may want to make Mars their next vacation or retirement spot because Mars may turn out to become Earth II; only kidding.
Studying everything and anything about Mars is a good thing but when you look at all the damage that we have caused to our planet, such as global warming, destroying our environment with chemicals, etc., Mars is really turning out to be a necessary element in human survival, maybe not in our lifetime but our kids and grandchildren`s lifetime.
NASA scientists are now taking the Curiosity Rover`s mission to the next level by studying new weather and radiation patterns on the surface of the Red Planet. Scientists are currently studying observations of wind patterns and natural radiation patterns which are going to be the key element in learning and understanding the Red Planet`s surface better.
Scientists are using a car-sized mobile laboratory to collect data and currently this entity has identified transient winds, has mapped the winds in their relation to the many slopes on Mars surface, has tracked the daily and seasonal changes in the air pressure, and has linked certain rhythmic changes in the radiation to how they relate to the daily atmospheric changes on Mars. Boy, wouldn`t Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel love to take the long journey to Mars and study the weather on the Martian surface? I have seen him in every weather situation in the last fifteen years on this planet and he could take his weather reporting to the next level and become a regular weather channel astronaut and also report on the daily weather on Mars while still being a great entity on this planet.
Enough about Jim Cantore lets focus on NASA and their current weather and radiation study on Mars. With the data currently being analyzed and collected by scientists it could lead to more study and even a hypothesis that the overall weather conditions on Mars does favor habitable life for us humans.
During the first twelve weeks after the Curiosity Rover landed on Mars, scientists and researchers analyzed data from more than twenty atmospheric events which included at least one characteristic of a whirlwind which was recorded by the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument.
The characteristics analyzed can include a brief dip in air pressure, a change in wind direction, a change in wind speed, a rise in air temperature and a dip in ultraviolet light coming from wherever and reaching the rover. Two of these events studied included all five of these characteristics.
Scientists are pinpointing more of the wind patterns on Mars pertaining to what clues are left on the Red Planet`s surface. From orbit, scientists have seen more of what`s known as dust-devil tracks and shadows in and around many regions of Mars and are trying to piece together what may be causing this wind pattern phenomenon. One idea they are entertaining is that vortex whirlwinds arise and gale force without lifting as much dust as they do elsewhere.
Manuel de la Torre Juarez of NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California added a little more insight on this by saying, "Dust in the atmosphere has a major role in shaping the climate on Mars, The dust lifted by dust devils and dust storms warms the atmosphere." (De La Torre)
Probably almost like the same climate as Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas. With the many dust storms we have heard about in the last year or so that has turned the metropolitan area of Phoenix into a sea of swarming dust the size of a small planet, no wonder the warm temperatures in the Southwest have broken many records lately.
Therefore, the surface on Mars may just be equivalent to our deserts surface in the Southwest which would be one plus to say that the surface on Mars in habitable but no concrete evidence has been discovered as of yet.
One element in studying wind patterns and wind direction lies in the slope effects of hills and mountains. Normally, slopes effects will produce winds in a North and South direction. The wind direction in and around the area of the Rovers current position has produced data of the total opposite.
The Rover is currently just north of a mountain called Mount Sharp. If air movement up and down the mountain`s slope governed wind direction, dominant winds generally would be north-south. However, east-west winds appear to predominate. The rim of Gale Crater may be a factor. (nasa.gov)
Claire Newman, who is a REMS investigator at Ashima Research in Pasadena, California added, "With the crater rim slope to the north and Mount Sharp to the south, we may be seeing more of the wind blowing along the depression in between the two slopes, rather than up and down the slope of Mount Sharp. If we don`t see a change in wind patterns as Curiosity heads up the slope of Mount Sharp -- that would be a surprise." (Newman, C.)
Basically, in Earth`s terms, she is saying, it would probably be almost impossible to fly a kite on the surface of Mars but no one has attempted that feat as of yet; I think. "
With the monitoring and tracking of the data collected when it comes to the air pressure on Mars has shown scientists a seasonal increase and a daily routine of understanding the atmospheric cycles on present-day Mars. This data will also give scientist the needed information on how past cycles on Mars may have operated in the past.
Scientists are linking the season increase of the atmospheric cycles to a ton of carbon-dioxide which had been frozen into a southern winter ice cap that returned into the atmosphere as the Martian southern spring turned to summer and the atmosphere became warmer. The daily cycle of higher pressure in the morning and lower pressure in the evening resulted from daytime heating of the atmosphere by the sun. As the Martian morning works its way westward around the planet, the thermal tide as it is known on Mars creates a wave of heat-expanded atmosphere.
This information and the effects of the atmospheric tide show up in data from Curiosity`s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD). The (RAD) instrument monitors high-energy radiation which is considered to be a health risk to astronauts and a factor in whether microbes could survive on the Mars` surface.
Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute`s Boulder, Colorado branch and who is also a RAD principal investigator commented on this by saying, "We see a definite pattern related to the daily thermal tides of the atmosphere. The atmosphere provides a level of shielding, and so charged-particle radiation is less when the atmosphere is thicker. Overall, Mars atmosphere reduces the radiation dose compared to what we saw during the flight to Mars." (Hassler, D.)
So, don`t just hop in and ride one of those dune buggies you see racing on CBS Sports Spectacular on Saturdays and head for the Martian`s surface thinking the sand dunes there are larger and better than the ones you see in our deserts Southwest. However, hang out a little while and let the NASA Rover continue to study and enlighten us on the surface of Mars and the radiation and weather related patterns on the Martian planet while providing scientists information as to if Mars may turn out to be the next Earth (Earth II) in the years to come and show us that Mars is truly a habitable planet for human life.
NASA ROVER PROVIDING NEW WEATHER AND RADIATION DATA ABOUT MARS,
(http://www.nasa.gov/msl) Retrieved 2012.
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