During the most recent early afternoon on Mars, the temperature at the rover Spirit landing site in Gusev crater was an admittedly chilly minus 11 degrees Celsius (12 degrees Fahrenheit). But it was still warmer than most cities in the upper Northeast, gripped in a frigid winter chill.
The rover's Mini-TES instrument (for miniature thermal emission spectrometer) made the precise measurement of the landing-site temperature, at about three feet from the surface, at 1:15 p.m. Mars time, according to mission science team member Michael Smith of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Mars is 1.5 times farther from the sun than Earth.
It is day on Mars when it is night in most of the United States. But around the same time, at 1 p.m. today (Jan. 14), temperatures in the Northeast ranged from minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit in Caribou, Maine, to 9 degrees in Providence, R.I. Rochester, N.Y., was considerably colder than Gusev crater, at 3 degrees, according to Keith Eggleston, senior climatologist at Cornell University's Northeast Regional Climate Center. There were lunchtime subzero temperatures in Albany, N.Y., Syracuse, N.Y., Concord, N.H., and Burlington and Montpelier, Vt.
However, the Mars landing site, where it is late summer, cooled off considerably in the evening, reaching an estimated low temperature of minus 90 Celsius (minus 130 Fahrenheit), said Smith.
Commented Eggleston, "Well, for the Northeast, that record will be a little harder to break."
Temperature at 1 p.m., Jan. 14
Location Temp. (Fahrenheit) Gusev crater, Mars 12 Providence, R.I. 9 Scranton Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 8 Hartford, Conn. 7 Buffalo, N.Y. 7 Rochester, N.Y. 3 Ithaca, N.Y. 3 Albany, N.Y. -2 Binghamton, N.Y. -2 Concord, N.H. -3 Syracuse, N.Y. -4 Burlington, Vt. -10 Montpelier, Vt. -12 Caribou, Maine -13 Mount Washington, N.H. -36