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Mars dust-driven tides and their impact on the thermosphereIt has been known since the early Mariner 6, 7, and 9 missions that dust loading of the lower atmosphere and the subsequent aerosol heating during dusty periods impacts the martian middle and upper atmospheres. A quantitative measure of this lower atmosphere forcing was obtained by the Viking 1 and 2 landers, from which observed amplitudes of semidiurnal surface-pressure oscillations were correlated with normal-incidence dust optical depths. It appears that the dominant semidiurnal mode is a good indicator of global dust content or mean dust optical depth, especially during dust storm events. A classical tidal model that reproduces the surface pressure oscillations measured by these Viking landers in 1977 was used to calculate tidal amplitudes and phases up to approximately 43 km. These tidal characteristics were calculated for various dust optical depth conditions ranging from typical dusty periods to global dust storm times. Reasonable extrapolations can be made to higher altitudes if one assumes that the vertically propagating tidal modes continue to grow without dissipation or breaking. It is very likely that gravity waves also play an important role in the structure and dynamics of the middle atmosphere of Mars, since the large topographical relief should produce vigorous gravity wave fluxes. Semidiurnal tidal modes, significantly enhanced by lower atmosphere dust-induced heating, may indeed propagate to the Mars thermosphere (approximately less than 100 km) before breaking and generating turbulence. The preferential enhancement of the semidiurnal tides during dust storm onset is primarily due to the elevation of the tidal heating source in a very dusty atmosphere. The (2,2) semidiurnal tidal tidal mode was shown to have the largest variation with dust optical depth, as measured by Viking lander instruments. Also, the (2,2) mode has the largest vertical wavelength of all the semidiurnal tidal modes, and thus is most likely to penetrate into the thermosphere before breaking and to modify the largely in situ solar-driven behavior otherwise expected. The tides may also be partially responsible for determining the height of the martian homopause (approximately 125 km).
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Bougher, Stephen W.
(Arizona Univ. Tucson, AZ, United States)
Zurek, Richard W.
(Jet Propulsion Lab. California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena., United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Workshop on Atmospheric Transport on Mars
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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