Instrument Status Update
Posted by David Kass
2009/03/22 12:00 CDT
Mars Climate Sounder has been observing the Martian atmosphere for one and a third Mars years and has collected 794 days of scientifically useful data. This includes almost 36 million individual soundings at Mars.
Over the last nine months, we have been seeing the same Martian seasons as were observed during the start of the mission, providing interesting observations of interannual variability. Mars is currently in the late southern spring, which is often called the dust storm season.
Significant Events Since the Last Update:
In April and May 2008, Mars Climate Sounder supported the approach and landing of the Phoenix mission by providing near-real-time atmospheric updates and weather predictions. Over last summer (through November 2008), MCS then participated with Phoenix in a joint campaign to simultaneously study the atmosphere above the lander from orbit and from the surface.
The intermittent error that has occasionally plagued Mars Climate Sounder's operations started to recur last March, but remained manageable throught the Phoenix activites. It then disappeared again in October. There have now been five months of trouble-free operations.
Some Recent Mars Climate Sounder Publications:
McCleese et al. (2008), "Intense polar temperature inversion in the middle atmosphere on Mars," Nature Geoscience Volume 1, Issue 11, Pages 745-749.
This paper describes the southern polar winter as seen by Mars Climate Sounder, showing a more intense warming than expected from Martian models. The more intense warming implies that the global circulation pattern is faster than expected.
Lee C., et al. (2009), "Thermal tides in the Martian middle atmosphere as seen by the Mars Climate Sounder," Journal of Geophysical Research Volume 114, Issue E03005, doi:10.1029/2008JE003285.
This describes one of the major patterns Mars Climate Sounder is seeing in the temperature field, which is due to solar forced thermal tides. While the pattern was predicted from models and theoretical efforts, it has not been characterized this clearly in the past.