May 16, 2012 is the third martian anniversary of the start of Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) observations from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. MCS started measuring the atmosphere of Mars three Mars years ago, on September 24, 2006. We can now compare the weather and behavior of the atmosphere in three different years, and find the temperature differences to be surprisingly large.
The Mars Climate Sounder instrument provides routine nightside observations of atmospheric temperature and opacity that document the presence of rapidly evolving water ice cloud layers in the Martian tropics during the northern summer season.
I just posted the following update to the Mars Climate Sounder Team Website. I didn't realize until this message came in to my inbox that it is now one Mars year before Curiosity lands. Tick, tick, tick...
Two weeks ago Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) started a four-week campaign to support entry, descent, and landing phase for the next Mars rover, Mars Science Laboratory (or "Curiosity").
One of the instruments on a 2016 mission to orbit Mars will provide daily maps of global, pole-to-pole, vertical distributions of the temperature, dust, water vapor and ice clouds in the Martian atmosphere.
Last week Mars Climate Sounder collected its 20 millionth sounding at Mars. Mars Climate Sounder is scanning without problems, collecting science observations of the atmosphere of Mars. Mars Climate Sounder has now been observing Mars for over 17 months (three quarters of a Mars year and also approximately three quarters of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter primary science mission).
Two months after the start of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's primary science phase, the Mars Climate Sounder instrument has already acquired more than four million soundings, building toward a vast data set on the three-dimensional structure of Mars' atmosphere over the full Martian year of the orbiter's nominal mission.
They held the usual pre-arrival press conference this morning for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This press conference typically doesn't convey any information that people who have been paying attention don't already know.
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