The Daily Martian Weather Report

Brought to you by the Mars Global Surveyor Radio Science Team

Clouds over Tharsis and
Valles Marineris Afternoon clouds over the Tharsis volcanoes and Valles Marineris in April 1999 (Mars Orbiter Camera image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems)


Late Martian Weather!

Highlights of the Martian Atmosphere

Martian Temperature and Pressure Profiles

Public Access to Data Products

Daily Martian Weather Report Information

Latitude Coverage

MGS Radio Science Team


Other Temperature and Pressure Profiles

Images of the Martian Atmosphere
Welcome to The Daily Martian Weather Report. Contact with the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft was lost on November 2, 2006, following a successful 10-year mission to explore and map the red planet Mars. A brief summary of the important discoveries of the MGS mission may be found here.

As one of the mission science teams, the Mars Global Surveyor Radio Science Team conducted a detailed investigation of the martian atmosphere. Results of their study are presented on this site. The precision of the atmospheric measurements is extraordinary. Late martian weather readings were posted throughout the primary and extended mapping phases of the MGS mission. Atmospheric temperature and pressure profiles that have been archived with NASA's Planetary Data System were also made available for query on this site. These profiles illustrate the vertical structure of the atmosphere of Mars.

Frosty rim of Lomonosov
  Crater in Winter Frosty rim, low lying ground fog and higher cloud layers over Lomonosov Crater in winter (Mars Orbiter Camera image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems)

The launch of the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft from the Cape Canaveral Air Station took place on November 7, 1996. After a ten-month cruise to Mars, the MGS spacecraft executed its orbit insertion maneuver on September 12, 1997. The period of the initial orbit of Mars was nearly two days. The mission plan called for a three- to four-month aerobraking sequence to modify the orbit to one suitable for mapping the red planet. The mapping phase of the mission was then scheduled to begin in the spring of 1998, and to continue for one complete martian year (687 days).

Unfortunately, problems with one of the two MGS solar panels forced the aerobraking sequence to proceed more slowly than planned. MGS executed its final aerobraking pass through the upper martian atmosphere on February 4, 1999, and successfully performed its aerobraking exit maneuver later that day. MGS executed its transfer to mapping orbit on February 19, 1999, and achieved the desired mapping orbit with a period just under two hours and an altitude of approximately 250 miles.

The primary mapping phase of the MGS mission began in March, 1999, and was completed in January, 2001 after one martian year. An extended mapping mission began on January 31, 2001. A series of further extensions were granted by NASA and the US Congress as the spacecraft proved to be robust and continued to return high quality science data. When contact was finally lost in November, 2006, the mission was in its fourth extended phase. Following a concerted but ultimately unsuccessful effort to command the spacecraft to a safe state and reestablish radio contact, the mission was terminated on January 31, 2007. The long duration of the mission provided a special opportunity to study year to year changes on Mars.

Last updated: April 20, 2007
Joe Twicken