Curiosity Makes Weird Weather Find on Red Planet

Warm days could point to possibility of life there

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 1, 2012 5:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Mars rover Curiosity has enjoyed surprisingly warm weather lately, a find that could arouse more speculation about the possibility of life on the Red Planet, Space.com reports. In this case, warm means up to 43 Fahrenheit—which is unexpected because it's still winter at the Gale Center, where Curiosity landed about 8 weeks ago. "That we are seeing temperatures this warm already during the day is a surprise and very interesting," says Spanish scientist Felipe Gómez.

Curiosity's primary goal is to figure out whether microbial life has ever existed on Mars. Most scientists say it's too dry and cold for life now, but that perception may change if Curiosity enjoys even balmier days throughout the spring and summer. If temperatures climb into the 70s, "that would be really exciting from a habitability point of view," says Gómez. The nights, however, remain on the chilly side—as cold as minus 94 Fahrenheit just before the sun comes up.

This image released by NASA on Wednesday Aug. 29,2012 shows Curiosity's wheels after it made its third drive on Mars.   (AP Photo/NASA)
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