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H. Houben (Space Physics Research Institute)
The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft (Thermal Emission Spectrometer) is capable of taking thousands of infrared spectra per day. The 15 micron carbon dioxide band in these spectra can be inverted to obtain atmospheric temperature profiles, amounting to some 15,000-25,000 separate measurements each day. In addition, radio occultations provide fewer, but higher resolution, observations of temperature and pressure profiles. In principle, these observations are sufficient to determine all the meteorologically significant parameters of the atmosphere: not only temperatures, but horizontal and vertical winds, surface pressure, and diabatic heating rates (all as functions of latitude, longitude, altitude, and time). This capability is quite important since it will ultimately allow realtime meteorological analysis to enable improved aerobraking and aerocapture scenarios for future spacecraft. Techniques for accomplishing the analysis--here based on a baroclinic, spectral, general circulation model of the Martian atmosphere--are becoming standard. More challenging is the problem of making useful representations of the vast 4-d dataset that is produced. Results for the hiatus period of the Mars Global Surveyor aerobraking phase will be presented.