Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) observations of dust opacity during aerobraking and science phasing

Michael D. Smith, John C. Pearl, Barney J. Conrath, Philip Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) arrived at Mars in September 1997 near Mars's southern spring equinox and has now provided monitoring of conditions in the Mars atmosphere for more than half a Mars year. The large majority of the spectra taken by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) are in a nadir geometry (downward looking mode) where Mars is observed through the atmosphere. Most of these contain the distinct spectral signature of atmospheric dust. For these nadir-geometry spectra we retrieve column-integrated infrared aerosol (dust) opacities. TES observations during the aerobraking and science-phasing portions of the MGS mission cover the seasonal range Ls=184°-28°. Excellent spatial coverage was obtained in the southern hemisphere. Northern hemisphere coverage is generally limited to narrow strips taken during the periapsis pass but is still very valuable. At the beginning of the mission the 9-μm dust opacity at midsouthern latitudes was low (0.15-0.25). As the season advanced through southern spring and into summer, TES observed several regional dust storms (including the Noachis dust storm of November 1997) where peak 9-μm dust opacities approached or exceeded unity, as well as numerous smaller local storms. Both large and small dust storms exhibited significant changes in both spatial coverage and intensity over a timescale of a day. Throughout southern spring and summer the region at the edge of the retreating southern seasonal polar ice cap was observed to be consistently more dusty than other latitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JE001097
Pages (from-to)9539-9552
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE4
StatePublished - Apr 25 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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