37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 33 Mars' Atmosphere
Poster, Tuesday, September 6, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Recital Room

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[33.03] Characterization of the Martian Atmosphere: a 25-year Roadmap

J. Bergstralh, J. M. Zawodny (NASA Langley Research Center), R. Tolson (National Institute of Aerospace)

As delivered payloads become more massive and as requirements for landings at specific locations become more stringent, aerocapture, precision entry/descent, and pinpoint landing will be key technologies for future robotic and human exploration of the martian surface. Aerocapture and precise control during the hypersonic phase of entry and descent will depend on knowledge of the density profile and its variations in the middle atmosphere (roughly the 20 to 60 km altitude range). Pinpoint landing will depend on knowledge of winds, wind shear, and turbulence in the planetary boundary layer (PBL; from the surface to roughly 20 km). Current and foreseeable sounding data (MRO TES, MEx SPICAM and PFS, MRO MCS) will not be sufficient to meet the operational needs of aerocapture and precision entry/descent. Currently available data on winds and turbulence in the PBL are extremely sparse and there is no evidence of a plan to increase them significantly in the future. We lay out a notional 25-year roadmap for characterization of the martian atmosphere, with time-horizons that correspond to foreseeable stages in the development of advanced entry/descent/landing systems for Mars exploration.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.