Right Now, It's as Cold in Canada as Where Our Rover Is on Mars

A frigid spell has brought Winnipeg's temperature down to that of a planet millions of miles further from the sun than we are.
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Snow on the polar cap of Mars ... during the summer on the planet, photographed in April of 2000 (NASA/JPL/MSSS)

Canada is having a cold snap at the moment. This week, in Southern Manitoba, the temperature reached a blisteringly frigid -31 degrees Celsius, or nearly -24 Fahrenheit. (Wind chill values in Winnipeg—in case you were curious and/or in need of some meteorological schadenfreude—dipped to -58 Fahrenheit.) Which is crazy, and which makes for, as Yahoo's Geekquinox blog puts it, "the coldest afternoon temperatures the area has seen in several years." 

The cold spell also puts Canada into some rarified company. Because you know what other place has recently registered a temperature of -31 degrees Celsius? Mars. Yep, Mars—a planet located many millions of miles farther from the sun than we are.* Over on the Red Planet, NASA's Curiosity rover regularly sends temperature data to us via its REMS (Rover Environmental Monitoring Station) instrument. And over the past month, Yahoo notes, REMS has been reporting daily high temperatures on Mars that range from -25 to -31 degrees Celsius. (Mars seems to be having its own cold spell: The -31 degrees Celsius temperature is the coldest daily high the rover has recorded since it landed on the planet in August 2012.) 

It's worth noting that Mars, like Earth, has its own climates—and the area where Curiosity is tooling around, The Smithsonian notes, is roughly equivalent to the latitude of Venezuela. So the temperature comparison is a bit of an apples-to-oranges matchup ... just with really cold apples. And really, really cold oranges. 

The Manitoba Museum via The Smithsonian


This sentence originally specified the average Mars-to-Earth distance (140 million miles); since the planets' orbital speeds mean that their distance from each other is constantly changing, though—and since the most relevant factor here is distance from the sun, anyhow—I removed the specific number after publication.

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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