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Chicago Temperatures Colder Than On Mars

CHICAGO (CBS) -- How cold is it in Chicago? Colder Monday morning than some of the coldest places on earth and in the solar system.

"The high temperature recorded by the Mars Curiosity Rover, where it is located on Mars, was apparently about 17 degrees Fahrenheit. So it was colder in Chicago than the high temperature experienced where the Rover is on Mars," said Michelle Nichols, Master Educator, Alder Planetarium.

But Nichols said Mars' atmosphere is significantly thinner than Earth's. It's only one percent as thick of Earth's atmosphere, so there is huge differences between the lows and highs of the day. WBBM's Lisa Fielding reports.

"The low temperature the Curiosity experienced on December 12th, the low temperature was 103-below zero. So while we have a higher temperature for a high, the low temperature has us beat by quite a bit," said Nichols.

"It was colder in Chicago than a portion of the planet Mars. Two below (Celsius) was recorded by NASA which is still warmer than here in Chicago," said Bob Larson, Meteorologist, Accuweather. "It is centered at the Martian equator. That is incredible for a planet that far away from the sun to be even colder in Chicago than they had been at the equator. That's not representative of the whole planet or where the Rover is but still an incredible statistic."

Between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Monday morning, the official temperature at Chicago's O'Hare Internatioanl Airport dipped to a low of 13-below zero, just one degree short of the record set more than 20 years ago in 1983.

"We were one of the coldest places on Earth today. Nearby LaPorte, Indiana recorded an incredible 26-below zero this morning," Larson said. "North of the border, Lynn Lake, Ontario, near the Manitoba border, 40 below zero. These are actual temperatures."

Places like Moscow, where it's traditionally very cold, was even warmer than Chicago, Larson said, with temperatures in the upper 20s.

"The South Pole recorded 12-below zero where it's just the start of summer," he said. "Portions of Siberia was 30-, 32-below zero."

With many of the coldest cities on Earth located in far northern latitudes, arctic air is persistent, plunging normal low temperatures into the double digits below zero.

Accuweather said whether it is the vast Siberian tundra, the Canadian wilderness or far eastern China, residents in these locales routinely face some of the longest and most challenging winter seasons.

Here in Chicago though, relief is in sight. Temperatures are predicted to be back in the mid-30s by mid-week.

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