Just as we receive daily weather updates for Earth, so Mars orbiters and landers are also providing insights to the weather on Mars. From orbit, global changes in cloud and dust can be monitored. ESA’s Mars Express made the first images of carbon dioxide ice clouds in the atmosphere and more recently observed a curious water-ice cloud forming over one of the planet’s large volcanoes. NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor acquires a global view of the red planet and its weather patterns every day. From the surface, the local weather at specific sites is recorded by landers and rovers, providing details of the daily temperature range, wind speed and pressure, for example. Click here to see the daily weather report from NASA’s Insight lander at Elysium Planitia, and here for the weather at Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover is exploring.
The ESA-Roscosmos surface science platform will also host a suite of weather-recording instruments to monitor the environmental conditions at Oxia Planum. Its instruments will provide data on the ground and air temperature, and on the pressure, humidity, wind, radiation and dust at the landing site.
ESA has demonstrated expertise in studying Mars from orbit, now we are looking to secure a safe landing, to rove across the surface and to drill underground to search for evidence of life. Our orbiters are already in place to provide data relay services for surface missions. The next logical step is to bring samples back to Earth, to provide access to Mars for scientists globally, and to better prepare for future human exploration of the Red Planet.
This set of infographics highlight’s ESA’s contribution to Mars exploration as we ramp up to the launch of our second ExoMars mission, and look beyond to completing a Mars Sample Return mission.