Sunday, August 29, 2010

Martian Atmosphere Profiles

The Mars Climate Sounder instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter maps the vertical distribution of temperatures, dust, water vapor and ice clouds in the Martian atmosphere as the orbiter flies a near-polar orbit.

This example of data from the instrument shows 13 orbits of nighttime temperatures at altitudes of zero to 80 kilometers (50 miles) above the surface, presented as curtains along the orbital track. Temperatures range from 120 Kelvin (minus 244 degrees Fahrenheit), coded purple, to 200 Kelvin (minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit), coded green.

The data are from March 1, 2008, which was during early spring on northern Mars. The globe of Mars depicted under the curtains is a Google Earth product using elevation data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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