On Earth, a microclimate mostly refers to an area which differs from the surrounding areas in temperature or humidity.

And what about Mars ?

Are there places with atmospheric conditions that are less unpleasant for humans than those in general on the rest of Mars, like higher temperature, less wind, less dust and without dust storms ?

Ganges Cavus

Ganges Cavus, from File:Ganges Chasma

Ganges Cavus for instance, is a collapse feature lying in the eastern part of the Valles Marineris system of canyons.
It is an elliptical depression with a width that varies from about 30 to 40 km and is about 5 km deep. (calculated with Mars Trek ) According to this article the floor of the cavus is <20 km long from east to west.

At the high plains surrounding Ganges Cavus the atmospheric pressure will be well below the average pressure of 600 pascals on the Martian surface, while the pressure at the floor will have about the double value.

Could it be that dust storms will flow more or less above Ganges Cavus because of this difference in pressure and the depth of this depression ?

And are there other places on Mars where better weather conditions could exist ?
According to figure 1 of this article for instance, there are some craters with a diameter of about 1 km with a depth of more than 200 meters ! When near the equator, could they not contain a microclimate ?

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Is it only me or when looking at this image the depression actually looks like if it's higher than the surrounding? (Maybe I should open a separate question on why these greyscale images sometimes trick my eye ;)) $\endgroup$
    – BlueCoder
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ Looks that way to me as well, I think it looks like that because of expectations. On earth if it was a depresion it would be a lake (notice the valleys) there for it must be a hill. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 13:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is possible that temperature in craters could be different to temperature outside the craters. Having visited open cut mines, particularly in deserts areas during summer, the temperature in some pits can be considerably higher than on the surface: 50 deg C in the pit compared to 30 to 40 deg C on the surface. This is partly due to sunlight being reflected from the wall of the depression creating a concentrating effect. Also, the walls heat up and radiate additional heat into the depression. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 14:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ We dont know the weather conditions over the whole surface of Mars. The Rover Environmental Monitoring Station has a wind sensor. But there is no net of meterological stations like on Earth and no weather balloons for the higher atmosphere. There may be a Mars satellite for measurement of wind speeds like the Atmospheric Dynamics Mission Aeolus for measurement of global (Earth) wind speeds launched some weeks ago. But such a satellite for Mars will take some decades from now. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 10:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Conelisinspace you should add that to your question. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


Mars does not have microclimates that make it more suitable for human life

Let's start with why Mars sucks for humans:

  • Atmospheric pressure - is way below what we can survive
  • Atmospheric chemistry - no oxygen is bad for humans and no nitrogen makes it bad for plants too.
  • Temperature - All of the planet goes well below 0.
  • little water - What little water there is is mostly frozen, though there is some.
  • dust storms - Dust storms are the least troublesome of the problems. They are problematic simply because they choke out solar panels and clog up moving parts. They are no where near as strong as sand storms on earth.

Mars does have microclimates but none of which that solves these problems. As microclimates can be made by a myriad of unique geological and chemical traits specific to an area.

  • Atmospheric pressure - Pressure can increase slightly in subterranean locations. The deeper you go the more pressure there is, at present we have not found a cave system that goes deep enough to support human atmosphere.
  • Atmospheric chemistry - There is no place on Mars that offers a reprieve from this.
  • Temperature - At Mars equatorial region, temperatures can reach as high as 60 degrees during the day but at night plummet below 0. Certain rock formations have been known to capture day heat and radiate it back at night, but with negative temperatures this is not likely to make a habitable difference. The core of Mars is not entirely dead so it is possible that the deeper you go in the crust the warmer it will be. However, we are talking miles before you get something livable.
  • little water - liquid water doesn't exist long on Mars because of the pressure, it vaporizes, or freezes because of the temperature. It is possible and I believe ive seen news articles claiming liquid water was found on Mars via ground penetrating radar deep within its crust (so cave systems).
  • dust storms - Many mountains, caves, and craters can offer refuge from dust storms. NASA does try to get its rovers to places such as these when the dust seasons hit.

In short, there is no known area that can support human life on Mars, though cave systems may contain such places at the expense of sun light.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'll disagree on a couple points: dust storms cutting sunlight for a prolonged period of time may mean doom of a base with no alternate sources of energy; battery supply to keep life support that long would be very heavy and hard to bring. Atmospheric pressure: possibility for liquid water to occur on the surface would be helpful. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 0:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer but i didn't ask for microclimates that are suitable for human life. I did ask for specific places on Mars where more pleasant weather conditions occur, so to make this clear i added the last sentences. $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ Should slang words like suck be used on Space SE ? $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ right well, I decided to de-obfuscate "pleasant" for you since there is nothing pleasant on Mars $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 17:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @anon: There is a difference between a nuclear reactor and a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). There is not any space exploratory vehicle on Mars using a nuclear fission reactor with control rods. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 9:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.