Absorption and scattering properties of the Martian dust in the solar wavelengths

Maureen E. Ockert-Bell, James F. Bell, James B. Pollack, Christopher P. McKay, François Forget

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147 Scopus citations


A new wavelength-dependent model of the single-scattering properties of the Martian dust is presented. The model encompasses the solar wavelengths (0.3 to 4.3 μm at 0.02 μm resolution) and does not assume a particular mineralogical composition of the particles. We use the particle size distribution, shape, and single-scattering properties at Viking Lander wavelengths presented by Pollack et al. [1995]. We expand the wavelength range of the aerosol model by assuming that the atmospheric dust complex index of refraction is the same as that of dust particles in the bright surface geologic units. The new wavelength-dependent model is compared to observations taken by the Viking Orbiter Infrared Thermal Mapper solar channel instrument during two dust storms. The model accurately matches afternoon observations and some morning observations. Some of the early morning observations are much brighter than the model results. The increased reflectance can be ascribed to the formation of a water ice shell around the dust particles, thus creating the water ice clouds which Colburn et al. [1989], among others, have predicted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96JE03991
Pages (from-to)9039-9050
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE4
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Medicine


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