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The martian atmosphere: Mariner 9 television experiment progress report

January 1, 1972

Atmospheric phenomena appearing in the Mariner 9 television pictures are discussed in detail. The surface of the planet was heavily obscured by a global dust storm during the first month in orbit. Brightness data during this period can be fitted by a semi-infinite scattering and absorbing atmosphere model with a single-scattering albedo in the range 0.70–0.85. This low value suggests that the mean radius of the particles responsible for the obscuration was at least 10 μm. By the end of the second month, this dust storm had largely dissipated, leaving a residual optical depth ∼0.1. Much of the region north of 45°N was covered by variable clouds comprising the north polar hood. The cloud structures revealed extensive systems of lee waves generated by west-to-east flow over irregular terrain. Extensive cloud systems in this region resembled baroclinic wave cyclones. Clouds were also observed over several of the large calderas; these clouds are believed to contain water ice. Several localized dust storms were seen after the global dust storm cleared. These dust clouds appeared to be intensely convective. The convective nature of these storms and the stirring of large dust particles to great heights can be explained by vertical velocities generated by the absorption of solar radiation by the dusty atmosphere.

    Citation Information

    Publication Year 1972
    Title The martian atmosphere: Mariner 9 television experiment progress report
    DOI 10.1016/0019-1035(72)90006-1
    Authors C.B. Leovy, G.A. Briggs, A.T. Young, B.A. Smith, James B. Pollack, E.N. Shipley, R.L. Wildey
    Publication Type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Series Title Icarus
    Series Number
    Index ID 70010130
    Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
    USGS Organization