Model developed by researchers can predict weather on Mars

Researchers at Helsinki University have developed a model that can predict the weather on Mars.

Weather in Mars, NASA The atmospheric column model for Mars is being used at many research centres. Researchers at Helsinki University have now compared the predictions obtained from this model against the temperature observations obtained by the quad bikes that have been gathering data on Mars.

NASA’s quad bikes, Spirit and Opportunity, have been on the surface of Mars for over four years now. Spirit is at work at the bottom of the Gusev Crater in the southern hemisphere. Opportunity meanwhile is rolling along collecting samples at the equator.

The comparison revealed that the predictions and temperature observations match on both the daily and the annual rate. The results were published in the British Meteorological Society magazine.

A new 3D weather prediction model has now been developed, and is based on the principles of the column model.

The model’s predictions match the observations sent by the Phoenix Mars Lander, which landed in the northern polar plains of Mars in May. Phoenix measures temperature and air pressure on Mars using a system developed by the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

“The accuracy of the matches result not only from the superiority of the model, but also from the fact that there is no sea or vegetation on Mars, which makes weather prediction somewhat easier on Mars than it is on Earth,” explains Hannu Savijärvi, the leader of the Finnish research team and Professor of Meteorology.

At this moment in time, Mars is experiencing midsummer, in line with the rest of the northern hemisphere. Phoenix will therefore spend a few more days basking in the Midnight Sun, whereas Spirit is suffering the extreme cold of the southern hemisphere.

Text: Minna Meriläinen & Niina Viitanen
Photo: NASA
8.7.2008
www.helsinki.fi/digitalcommunications

Translation: AAC Noodi Oy


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