American Mars Rover Curiosity drew a map of the crater Gale winds with meteorological instruments REMS and confirmed that the atmosphere of Mars is its only a "shield" against cosmic radiation, said participants of the press conference at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Thursday.
"Judging by the shape of the crater Gale, we expected that the wind will blow it in two directions — towards mountains Sharpe from her. Turned out that the winds blow in a completely different direction — along the edges of the crater," — said meteorologist Clara Newman ( Clara Newman) from the research of Ashima Research in Pasadena (USA).
Science team working with climatological tool REMS, made this card based on three months of observations of changes in the direction of the wind in the Gale Crater, where the rover Curiosity landed at the beginning of August. In addition to data on the behavior of the wind, scientists have discovered many other interesting details that make the weather Mars quite unlike the Earth.
In particular, the difference in pressure between the day and night hours on Mars was very high — about 10% between the peak values during the day and at night. Interestingly, the pressure of the night on the red planet is much higher than the daytime. Scientists attribute this to the fact that the day thin atmosphere of Mars is warming up under the rays of the sun and expands, causing the pressure drops sharply.
In addition, the average pressure between August and November increased significantly — the difference between the monthly averages of about 80-100 Pa. Climatologists link this increase to the fact that now in the southern hemisphere of Mars is spring, and the polar ice cap, which consists mainly of frozen carbon dioxide, is gradually disappearing. As a result, the atmosphere of the red planet gradually "growing."
As noted by Don Hassler (Don Hassler) of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder (USA), responsible for the operation of the radiation detector RAD on board the rover, this device suddenly made another source of climate information. According to him, the radiometer can be used as a barometer, as the radioactivity of air is strongly dependent on the density of the Martian atmosphere at the current time.
Thus, when high pressure radioactivity was relatively low, and the low pressure — relatively high. This is due to the fact that the atmosphere of the red planet is the only shield against cosmic radiation. The atmosphere of Mars does not have a strong magnetic field like Earth, allowing charged particles easily reach the surface. Fluctuations recorded by the instrument RAD, confirmed that Mars has no other means of defense against cosmic radiation.
At the moment, Curiosity is at the accumulation of sand and Martian soil that NASA scientists have dubbed "the rock socket." According to the deputy lead scientist of the project Curiosity Ashwin Vasavada (Ashwin Vasavada) from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the rover has completed the analysis of soil samples in the spectrometer SAM and transferred to the ground data collected by this device. The results of this analysis will be published in the near future.