Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

High-Resolution Thermal Inertia Mapping from the Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer

January 1, 2000

High-resolution thermal inertia mapping results are presented, derived from Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) observations of the surface temperature of Mars obtained during the early portion of the MGS mapping mission. Thermal inertia is the key property controlling the diurnal surface temperature variations, and is dependent on the physical character of the top few centimeters of the surface. It represents a complex combination of particle size, rock abundance, exposures of bedrock, and degree of induration. In this work we describe the derivation of thermal inertia from TES data, present global scale analysis, and place these results into context with earlier work. A global map of nighttime thermal-bolometer-based thermal inertia is presented at 14?? per pixel resolution, with approximately 63% coverage between 50??S and 70??N latitude. Global analysis shows a similar pattern of high and low thermal inertia as seen in previous Viking low-resolution mapping. Significantly more detail is present in the high-resolution TES thermal inertia. This detail represents horizontal small-scale variability in the nature of the surface. Correlation with albedo indicates the presence of a previously undiscovered surface unit of moderate-to-high thermal inertia and intermediate albedo. This new unit has a modal peak thermal inertia of 180-250 J m-2 K-1 s-12 and a narrow range of albedo near 0.24. The unit, covering a significant fraction of the surface, typically surrounds the low thermal inertia regions and may comprise a deposit of indurated fine material. Local 3-km-resolution maps are also presented as examples of eolian, fluvial, and volcanic geology. Some impact crater rims and intracrater dunes show higher thermal inertias than the surrounding terrain; thermal inertia of aeolian deposits such as intracrater dunes may be related to average particle size. Outflow channels and valleys consistently show higher thermal inertias than the surrounding terrain. Generally, correlations between spatial variations in thermal inertia and geologic features suggest a relationship between the hundred-meter-scale morphology and the centimeter-scale surface layer. ?? 2000 Academic Press.

Publication Year 2000
Title High-Resolution Thermal Inertia Mapping from the Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer
DOI 10.1006/icar.2000.6503
Authors M. T. Mellon, B. M. Jakosky, H. H. Kieffer, P. R. Christensen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Icarus
Index ID 70022144
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse