Published preliminary results of the study of the atmosphere of Mars by the MEDA instrument
(ORDO NEWS) — Perseverance is a NASA autonomous spacecraft that arrived at Lake Lake on February 18, 2021.
The rover is equipped with seven sophisticated scientific instruments designed to search for ancient life, collect samples for delivery to Earth, and test new technologies.
The MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer) instrument installed on the rover has obtained new results.
The instrument includes a suite of sensors that measure the temperature, pressure, wind, humidity, and properties of the dust present in the Martian atmosphere.
The UPV/EHU team, formed by Agustín Sánchez-Lavega, Ricardo Hueso, Teresa del Río-Gaztelurrutia and graduate student Asier Munghira, led the study of seasonal and diurnal temperature and pressure cycles and their changes.
Throughout the season, the average air temperature in the Lake Lake crater, located near the planet’s equator, is about -55 degrees Celsius.
However, it varies greatly between day and night, with typical swings between 50 and 60 degrees.
In the middle of the day, the heating of the surface causes turbulent movements in the air as a result of the convection of air masses. These processes stop in the evening when the air settles.
The pressure sensors show in detail the seasonal changes in the rarefied atmosphere of Mars.
The changes are driven by the melting and freezing of atmospheric carbon dioxide at the polar caps, as well as a complex, variable diurnal cycle modulated by thermal tides in the atmosphere.
Both sensors also detect dynamic atmospheric phenomena that occur near the rover. For example, these can be processes caused by the passage of “dust devils” or the generation of gravitational waves.
“Dust devils” are more numerous in Lake Zero than anywhere else on Mars. They can form eddies with a diameter of more than 100 meters.
With the help of MEDA, scientists were able to characterize not only their general aspects, but also to unravel how they function.
MEDA also detected the presence of storms very similar in origin to Earth. They move along the edge of the northern polar cap, formed by the deposition of carbon dioxide snow.
In addition, MEDA was able to characterize in detail the changes that occurred in the atmosphere as a result of a terrible dust storm.
The rover recorded sudden changes in temperature and pressure, accompanied by strong gusts of wind. During a storm, the wind picked up dust that got into the instrument, damaging one of the wind sensors.
According to the researchers, MEDA provides high-precision meteorological measurements, allowing for the first time to characterize the Martian atmosphere on local scales at distances of several meters, as well as on the global scale of the planet by collecting information about what is happening thousands of kilometers from the instrument.
All this will lead to a better understanding of the Martian climate and improve the predictive models of scientists.
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