Long-Term Periodicity of the Mars Exospheric Density from MRO and Mars Odyssey Radio Tracking Data

Friday, 19 December 2014
Antonio Genova1, Sander J Goossens2, Frank G Lemoine3, Erwan Mazarico4, David E Smith5 and Maria T Zuber5, (1)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)UMBC CRESST/ NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (3)NASA Goddard SFC, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (4)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (5)Massachusetts Inst Tech, Cambridge, MA, United States
The Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) missions have collected more than 11 years of continuous tracking data of spacecraft in orbit around Mars. The radio science data are generally used to determine the static and seasonal gravity field of the central body. However, these two spacecraft are in different sun-synchronous orbits that cover a wide range of altitudes (250-410 km) where investigation of the atmosphere and climate of Mars so far have not been supported by in situ and remote sensing measurements. The drag perturbation acting on the probes provides indirect measurements of the Martian atmospheric density. Therefore, we focused our work on the determination of the long-term periodicity of the atmospheric constituents in the Mars exosphere with Mars Odyssey and MRO radio tracking data.

We implemented the Drag Temperature Model (DTM) –Mars model into our Precise Orbit Determination (POD) program GEODYN-II to adequately reproduce variations in temperature and (partial) density along ODY and MRO trajectories. The recovery of Mars' atmospheric dynamics using Doppler tracking data requires the accurate modeling of all forces acting on the spacecraft. The main non-conservative force, apart from drag, is solar radiation pressure. Spacecraft panel reflectivities and the radiation pressure-scaling factor are not estimated, but we adjusted empirical once-per-revolution along-track periodic accelerations (cosine and sine) over each orbital arc to mitigate solar radiation pressure mismodeling.

After converging the orbital data arcs, and editing out all the data during superior conjunctions, we combined the MRO and Mars Odyssey arcs in a global solution where we estimated spacecraft initial states, time-correlated drag scale factors, and annual and semi-annual variability of the major constituents in the Mars upper atmosphere. We will show that the updated DTM-Mars model provides a better prediction of the long-term variability of the dominant species, which are CO2, O, and He at the MRO and ODY orbit altitudes. The indirect measurements of atmospheric density profiles at those altitudes provide additional information to improve general circulation models, which already suitably represent lower altitudes in the atmosphere.