Sensitivity of Simulated Martian Atmospheric Temperature to Prescribed Dust Opacity Distribution. Comparisons of Model Results With Reconstructed Data From Past Mars Missions

Friday, 19 December 2014
Murali Natarajan1, Alicia M Dwyer Cianciolo1, Thomas Duncan Fairlie1, Mark Ian Richardson2 and Timothy H McConnochie3, (1)NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States, (2)Ashima Research, Pasadena, CA, United States, (3)University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States
Characterization of atmospheric variability is crucial to the design of the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) activities at Mars. The distribution of dust in the Martian atmosphere has a significant impact on the atmospheric structure and variability. Information obtained through reconstruction of EDL data from past missions can be used in studying the performance of a model used in preflight atmospheric characterization for future missions. We use the Mars Weather Research and Forecasting (MarsWRF) General Circulation Model to simulate the atmospheric temperature during the landing time periods of Mars Exploration Rovers MER-A and MER-B in 2004. The multi-scale capability of MarsWRF is useful for conducting high- resolution nested simulation centered at the landing site. This version of MarsWRF includes a high spectral accuracy “k-distribution” radiative transfer model. We use the IR dust opacity profile data from the Thermal Emission spectrometer (TES) limb scan data as well as the TES Nadir data to prescribe the dust opacity distribution. Data from MY 26, which corresponds to the year of MER landing, and data from a climatology based on the median of 4 years (MY24 to MY27) of TES data are used. Model temperature profiles are compared with the reconstructions from EDL data and TES observations. Sensitivity of the model simulation to variations in the input opacity data are shown.