36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 27 Mars Surface and Water I: MER
Special Session, Thursday, November 11, 2004, 10:30am-12:00noon, Lewis

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[27.04] Mars Exploration Rovers Mini-TES Atmospheric Results (Invited)

M. D. Smith (NASA/GSFC), M. J. Wolff (Space Science Inst.), N. Spanovich (U. Arizona), P. R. Christensen (Arizona St.), S. W. Squyres (Cornell), Athena Science Team

Thermal infrared spectra taken by the Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) instrument on-board the two Mars Exploration Rovers in an upward-looking geometry are well-suited for the retrieval of atmospheric temperatures from about 20 meters to 2 km above the surface and the column-integrated optical depth of dust and water ice clouds. Additionally, modeling of the 15-micron carbon dioxide absorption that is visible in downward-looking surface observations provides the surface temperature and the atmospheric temperature approximately one meter above the surface. Finally, the combination of Mini-TES thermal infrared spectra with Pancam visible-wavelength imaging allows the determination of aerosol physical and scattering properties.

Initial analysis of the retrieved temperature profiles show the diurnal variations of the Martian boundary layer including the development of a near-surface superadiabatic layer during the afternoon and a deep inversion layer at night. Upward-looking Mini-TES stares, in which spectra are collected every 2 seconds for up to 30 minutes, show warm and cool parcels of air moving through the Mini-TES field-of-view on the time scale of 30 seconds. The retrieved dust optical depth shows a downward trend at both sites as expected for this season.

Mini-TES observations will continue to be taken throughout the mission over a range of local times to characterize the diurnal and seasonal trends in temperatures and aerosol optical depth. When overflights by Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Express occur, the comparison of temperatures and aerosol optical depth between upward-looking Mini-TES observations and downward-looking orbital observations also provide an opportunity for cross-calibration and synergistic investigations.

This work is supported by the Mars Exploration Program.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: Michael.D.Smith@nasa.gov

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