A Two Martian Years Survey of Water Ice Clouds on Mars with ACS onboard TGO

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 23, 2022
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A Two Martian Years Survey of Water Ice Clouds on Mars with ACS onboard TGO
Vertical profiles of the measured opacity of the Martian atmosphere (kext = dτ/dz, in km−1) at 3.4 μm as observed by ACS-MIR over mid-MY 35 to mid-MY 36. To highlight the seasonal variations of the clouds by getting rid of their latitudinal dependency, each panel represents the profiles grouped by ranges of latitude (North/Equatorial/South).

The middle infrared (MIR) channel of the Atmospheric Chemistry Suite (ACS) instrument onboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) ESA-Roscosmos mission has performed Solar occultation measurements of the Martian atmosphere in the 2.3-4.2 μm spectral range since March 2018, which now covers two Martian Years (MY).

We use the methodology previously developed for the study of the MY 34 Global Dust Storm (GDS) (Stcherbinine et al., 2020) to monitor the properties of the Martian water ice clouds over the first two Martian years covered by ACS-MIR (effective radii, extinction, altitude). The observations encompass the period Ls = 163° in MY 34 to Ls = 181° in MY 36.

We determine that the typical altitude of the clouds varies by 20 to 40 km between the summer and winter, with a maximum extension up to 80 km during summer in the midlatitudes. Similarly, we also note that for a limited temporal range, the altitude of the clouds also varies by 20 to 40 km between the polar regions and the midlatitudes.

We also compare observations acquired during the MY 34 GDS to observations from the same period in MY 35, using that latter as a reference to characterize the effects of this GDS on the clouds’ properties. In addition, we compare our retrievals with the predictions of the Mars Planetary Climate Model (PCM), which shows a reasonable agreement overall for the altitude of the clouds, although the model usually predicts lower altitudes for the top of the clouds.

Aurélien Stcherbinine, Franck Montmessin, Mathieu Vincendon, Michael J. Wolff, Margaux Vals, Oleg Kovablev, Anna Fedorova, Alexander Trokhimovskiy, Gaetan Lacombe, Lucio Baggio

Comments: Submitted to JGR: Planets
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2208.11100 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2208.11100v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Aurélien Stcherbinine
[v1] Tue, 23 Aug 2022 17:23:33 UTC (1,353 KB)
Full paper

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