October 14, 2014

Recovery of surface reflectance spectra and evaluation of the optical depth of aerosols in the near-IR using a Monte Carlo approach: Application to the OMEGA observations of high-latitude regions of Mars

Vincendon M., Langevin Y., Poulet F., Bibring J.-P., Gondet B.
Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets

Summary: We present a model of radiative transfer through atmospheric particles based on Monte Carlo methods. This model can be used to analyze and remove the contribution of aerosols in remote sensing observations. We have developed a method to quantify the contribution of atmospheric dust in near-IR spectra of the Martian surface obtained by the OMEGA imaging spectrometer on board Mars Express. Using observations in the nadir pointing mode with significant differences in solar incidence angles, we can infer the optical depth of atmospheric dust, and we can retrieve the surface reflectance spectra free of aerosol contribution. Martian airborne dust properties are discussed and constrained from previous studies and OMEGA data. We have tested our method on a region at 90°E and 77°N extensively covered by OMEGA, where significant variations of the albedo of ice patches in the visible have been reported. The consistency between reflectance spectra of ice-covered and ice-free regions recovered at different incidence angles validates our approach. The optical depth of aerosols varies by a factor 3 in this region during the summer of Martian year 27. The observed brightening of ice patches does not result from frost deposition but from a decrease in the dust contamination of surface ice and (to a lower extent) from a decrease in the optical thickness of atmospheric dust. Our Monte Carlo-based model can be applied to recover the spectral reflectance characteristics of the surface from OMEGA spectral imaging data when the optical thickness of aerosols can be evaluated. It could prove useful for processing image cubes from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). © 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.