Surface and near-surface atmospheric temperatures for the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites

Nicole Spanovich, M. D. Smith, P. H. Smith, M. J. Wolff, Philip Christensen, S. W. Squyres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Downward-looking spectra of the martian surface from the Miniature Thermal Emission spectrometer (Mini-TES), onboard each of the two Mars Exploration Rovers, are modeled in order to retrieve surface and near-surface atmospheric temperatures. By fitting the observed radiance in the vicinity of the 15-μm CO2 absorption feature, the surface temperature and the near-surface atmospheric temperature, approximately 1.1 m above the surface, are determined. The temperatures from the first 180 sols (martian days) of each surface mission are used to characterize the diurnal dependence of temperatures. The near-surface atmospheric temperatures are consistently 20 K cooler than the surface temperatures in the warmest part of each sol, which is 1300-1400 LTST (local true solar time) depending on the location. Seasonal cooling trends are seen in the data by displaying the temperatures as a function of sol. Long ground stares, 8.5 min in duration, show as much as 8 K fluctuation in the near-surface atmospheric temperatures during the early afternoon hours when the near-surface atmosphere is unstable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-320
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Mars, atmosphere
  • Mars, climate
  • Mars, surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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