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Thermophysical Properties Along Curiosity's Traverse in Gale Crater, Mars, Derived from the REMS Ground Temperature SensorThe REMS instrument onboard the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, has measured ground temperature nearly continuously at hourly intervals for two Mars years. Coverage of the entire diurnal cycle at 1 Hz is available every few martian days. We compare these measurements with predictions of surface atmosphere thermal models to derive the apparent thermal inertia and thermally derived albedo along the rovers traverse after accounting for the radiative effects of atmospheric water ice during fall and winter, as is necessary to match the measured seasonal trend. The REMS measurements can distinguish between active sand, other loose materials, mudstone, and sandstone based on their thermophysical properties. However, the apparent thermal inertias of bedrock dominated surfaces [approx. 350-550 J m(exp. -2) K(exp. -1 s(exp. -1/2 )] are lower than expected. We use rover imagery and the detailed shape of the diurnal ground temperature curve to explore whether lateral or vertical heterogeneity in the surface materials within the sensor footprint might explain the low inertias. We find that the bedrock component of the surface can have a thermal inertia as high as 650-1700 J m(exp. -2) K(exp. -1) s(exp. -1/2) for mudstone sites and approx. 700 J m(exp. -2) K(exp. -1) s(exp. - 1/2) for sandstone sites in models runs that include lateral and vertical mixing. Although the results of our forward modeling approach may be non-unique, they demonstrate the potential to extract information about lateral and vertical variations in thermophysical properties from temporally resolved measurements of ground temperature.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Vasavada, Ashwin R. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Piqueux, Sylvain (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Lewis, Kevin W. (Johns Hopkins Univ. Baltimore, MD, United States)
Lemmon, Mark T. (Texas A&M System Univ. College Station, TX, United States)
Smith, Michael Doyle (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
April 20, 2017
Publication Date
November 30, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: Icarus
Volume: 284
ISSN: 0019-1035
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits