DPS Meeting, Madison, October 1998
Session 6. Mars Atmosphere II
Contributed Oral Parallel Session, Monday, October 12, 1998, 10:30-11:30am, Madison Ballroom C

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[6.03] The Dust Cycle Observed by Pathfinder

P. H. Smith, M. T. Lemmon, M. G. Tomasko (LPL, University of Arizona)

The Imager for Mars Pathfinder observed the Sun through special filters nearly every sol throughout the 83 sol mission; a total of 1733 images of the Sun have been obtained. Optical depths at four wavelengths (450, 670, 883, and 989 nm) steadily increased from 0.4 to 0.6 during the mission (Ls 145-185). Comparing observations taken in the morning to those from the afternoon shows a general variability with the morning haze being somewhat thicker by ~0.1 optical depths. Typically, the trend is more pronounced in the blue wavelength band; we interpret this to be the influence of a high level haze of water ice crystals that forms in the early morning and evaporates during the day. Small, Rayleigh scattering crystals explains the spectral signature that we measure. It may be that this upper haze layer is associated with the small, ice crystals seen by Mariner 9, the Viking orbiters, and the Phobos orbiter. UV images taken by HST show strong limb brightening that can be explained by this high level ice. Calculations of the haze lifetimes given the sedimentation rates measured from the Rover's solar panels and the magnetic targets, suggest that the haze should completely deposit onto the surface within 120 days. A primary mechanism for replenishing the haze may be the dust devils that were observed during the sol 11 gallery pan.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: psmith@lpl.arizona.edu

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