Planetary exploration; Mars on the scope
2015 (English)In: Journal of Astrobiology and Outreach, ISSN 2332-2519, Vol. 3, no 3, 133Article in journal (Refereed) Published
This article summarizes a practical case of introduction to research and planetary exploration through the analysis of data from the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), one of the ten scientific instruments on board the Curiosity rover of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), currently operating at the impact crater Gale, on Mars. It is the main aim of this work to show how the data that are publicly available at the Planetary Data System (PDS) can be used to introduce undergraduate students and the general public into the subject of surface exploration and the environment of Mars. In particular, the goal of this practice was to investigate and quantify the heat flux between the rover spacecraft and the Martian surface, the role of the atmosphere in this interaction, and its dependence with seasons, as well as to estimate the thermal contamination of the Martian ground produced by the rover. The ground temperature sensor (GTS) of the REMS instrument has measured in-situ, for the first time ever, the diurnal and seasonal variation of the temperature of the surface on Mars along the rover traverse. This novel study shows that the rover radiative heat flux varies between 10 and 22 W/m2 during the Martian year, which is more than 10% of the solar daily averaged insolation at the top of the atmosphere. In addition, it is shown that the radiative heat flux from the rover to the ground varies with the atmospheric dust load, being the mean annual amplitude of the diurnal variation of the surface temperature of 76 K, as a result of solar heating during the day and infrared cooling during the night. As a remarkable and unexpected outcome, it has been established that the thermal contamination produced by the rover alone induces, on average, a systematic shift of 7.5 K, which is indeed about 10% of the one produced by solar heating. This result may have implications for the design and operation of future surface exploration probes such as InSight.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 3, no 3, 133
Research subject Atmospheric science
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-4972DOI: 10.4172/2332-2519.1000133Local ID: 2fa07f21-1083-447a-9fdb-9ddd5d519233OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-4972DiVA: diva2:977846
Godkänd; 2015; 20150702 (javmar)2016-09-292016-09-29Bibliographically approved