Mars is an extremely cold planet, yes, with an average temperature of around -80°C, but temperatures can drop as low as -225°C around the planet’s poles.
The temperature on Mars is much cooler than on Earth , but it is also farther from the Sun. The small, arid planet also has a thin atmosphere (about 100 times thinner than Earth’s) that is 95% carbon dioxide. carbon (not exactly the best for breathing). However, unlike Venus, the atmosphere of Mars is very thin, so thin that it is unable to retain heat, subjecting the planet to cosmic ray bombardment and producing very little greenhouse effect.
The surface, on Mars, is quite desert. It has craters, but not as many as our Moon or Mercury. The craters have likely been weathered over the years by its colossal wind storms, which can cover the entire planet. These wind storms are very common on Mars.
Martian dust storms are the largest in the solar system and have been known to cover the planet for months. However, even in the absence of a dust devil, dust remains a permanent part of the Martian atmosphere (hence, it forms a central component of the Martian weather system). Made primarily of perchlorate, even the smallest amount of these dust storms is toxic to humans.
As the ground heats up, Martian dust devils also form and they’re pretty colossal. These ‘dust devils’ are about 10 times larger than what we see here on Earth and rotate at about 120 kilometers per hour leaving tracks in the thin layer of dust.
How are the summers?
Like Earth, Mars has four seasons, but because of the Red Planet’s eccentric orbit, the length of each season varies more than on Earth, according to NASA.
Hot spells are short : summers are hot and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature fluctuates and if there were to be tourism (or anytime in the future), we would say that the best time to visit Mars is from mid-June to mid-September, which corresponds to the warmer months. of this planet.
The highest temperature on Mars is 21°C, significantly below the highest temperature recorded on Earth (although the average temperature on Earth is 15°C, which is still enough to keep much of the water in a liquid state). Nighttime lows can easily reach -80 °C.
How are the winters?
The polar ice caps on Mars, made of water ice and carbon dioxide, shrink and grow in response to the seasons. Martian winters are freezing, snowy, and mostly cloudy. During winter, temperatures near the poles can drop to -125°C. “Each winter, up to a third of the mass of Mars’ atmosphere condenses to form an ice cap at each of the planet’s poles. Each spring, some of the mass within these caps sublimates to rejoin the atmosphere, and the caps visibly shrink as a result,” explains ESA.
According to NOAA, in general, Mars has a highly variable climate and is often cloudy. The planet changes from hot and dusty to cloudy and cold.
Studying the weather and climate on Mars is key to making exploration and settlement possible. Orbital observation satellites like Mars Maven and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and surface missions like NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover and Mars Opportunity Rovers have been deployed to better understand the planet’s weather and climate. Future surface missions of NASA (Mars 2020 with Perseverance at the fore) and ESA (if they manage to refloat the ExoMars mission), will further investigate these conditions.
Referencia: NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
Ramstad, Robin, et al. “Global mars‐solar wind coupling and ion escape. (opens in new tab)” Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 122.8 (2017): 8051-8062.
Sánchez‐Cano, Beatriz, et al. “Spatial, seasonal, and solar cycle variations of the Martian Total Electron Content (TEC): Is the TEC a good tracer for atmospheric cycles? (opens in new tab).” Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 123.7 (2018): 1746-1759.
Smith, David E., Maria T. Zuber, and Gregory A. Neumann. “Seasonal variations of snow depth on Mars. (opens in new tab)” Science 294.5549 (2001): 2141-2146.
Banfield, Don, et al. “The atmosphere of Mars as observed by InSight. (opens in new tab)” Nature Geoscience 13.3 (2020): 190-198.