DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 41. Future Missions and Instruments
Poster, Highlighted on, Friday, September 5, 2003, 3:30-6:00pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[41.07] Initial Concepts for a Mars Upper Atmosphere Orbiter Mission to Study Atmospheric Escape

K. D. Retherford, G. R. Gladstone, S. A. Stern, G. P. Miller, D. C. Slater, D. T. Young (SwRI), J. H. Waite, S. W. Bougher, A. F. Nagy (U. of Michigan)

According to the recent decadal survey “New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy” report by the National Academy of Sciences, a Mars Upper Atmosphere Orbiter (MUAO) mission is required to “provide quantitative information on the various atmospheric escape fluxes, thus quantifying current escape rates and providing a basis for backwards extrapolation in our attempt to understand the evolution of Mars’ atmosphere.” Mars’ atmosphere may once have been thick, warm, and wet, but how did it evolve into the thin, dry atmosphere of today? Specifically, how much water was lost by escape to space versus sequestration in the surface? We are investigating several candidate MUAO missions and instrument suites that address these questions of Martian climate change. SwRI held a workshop last spring (and a general Mars Aeronomy Workshop is planned for this meeting) to discuss the science goals and measurement needs for this mission with members of the Mars upper atmosphere community. We report a preliminary list of science goals and needed measurements for a MUAO mission. Initial results from a design study of neutral mass spectrometer, plasma analyzer, and far-ultraviolet spectrometer instruments conducted by SwRI will be discussed, along with future prospects for a NASA Mars Scout size MUAO mission.

We gratefully acknowledge internal support from SwRI, through Southwest Initiative for Mars (SwIM) grant 15-R9366.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.swri.org/swim/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

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

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.