This project is solving the Curiosity at Home challenge.

What topic is a more universal human interest than weather? It's the go-to subject for small talk, and it's something that impacts everyone. Whether people are preparing for a dangerous storm, a pleasant vacation, or a commute to work or school, we all check the weather forecast.

Interfacing with weather-related data is a regular part of daily life for many people today. We turn on the TV and watch the weather forecast, we open the weather app on our smartphone first thing in the morning. When we turn on a computer or game console, we see a few quick pieces of weather data floating by on the ubiquitous weather app's tile, even if we're not looking for it. We're all used to connecting with weather in the form of simple, user-friendly, highly visual formats.

So, what if we could connect with the weather on Mars in an even more direct manner? RHADD is a hardware device based around an Arduino microcontroller that collects temperature data from the user's local environment and displays it alongside the latest weather data from the Curiosity Rover's REMS sensor array. Lighted domes provide visual feedback regarding the temperature.

Today, this device is an educational tool designed to get people thinking about Mars as a place for people. I hope that it will also inspire people to imagine a future in which a similar device could serve a direct practical purpose: informing them of the difference between the temperature in their living quarters and the temperature on the Martian surface right outside their door, on humanity's first extraterrestrial colony.

So, what does it do?

Using a sensor, RHADD obtains the current temperature in the environment where the device is placed. It obtains the latest temperature data from the Curiosity Rover REMS sensor array, from the Centro de Astrobiologica REMS data web site. It displays the aforementioned data on an LCD screen, and also provides the user with a more intuitive way to interface with the weather data by displaying different colors of lights in two domes, one for the temperature in the current location, the other for Mars' surface. The domes light up yellow when the temperature is too cold for humans to safely and comfortably be in the environment without protective gear, green when the temperature is within an acceptable range, and red when the temperature is hotter than an acceptable range.

How does it do this?

RHADD uses an Arduino microcontroller, in this case an Arduino Uno R3. The Arduino code is written in C++, uploaded to the device using the open source Arduino IDE. This code controls the temperature sensor, LEDs, and the LCD screen. The Mars surface temperature data is copied from the CAB web site using a script written in the AutoIt language, which then creates a file on the local machine containing properly formatted data for display on the LCD screen, and uses the Windows command line interface to send this data to RHADD.

Project Information

License: Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0
Source Code/Project URL: