October 14, 2014

Remote sensing of surface pressure on Mars with the Mars Express/OMEGA spectrometer: 2. Meteorological maps

Spiga et Al.
Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets

Summary: Surface pressure measurements help to achieve a better understanding of the main dynamical phenomena occurring in the atmosphere of a planet. The use of the Mars Express OMEGA visible and near-IR imaging spectrometer allows us to tentatively perform an unprecedented remote sensing measurement of Martian surface pressure. OMEGA reflectances in the CO2 absorption band at 2 µm are used to retrieve a hydrostatic estimation of surface pressure (see companion paper by Forget et al. (2007)) with a precision sufficient to draw maps of this field and thus analyze meteorological events in the Martian atmosphere. Prior to any meteorological analysis, OMEGA observations have to pass quality controls on insolation and albedo conditions, atmosphere dust opacity, and occurrence of water ice clouds and frosts. For the selected observations, registration shifts with the MOLA reference are corrected. "Sea-level" surface pressure reduction is then carried out in order to remove the topographical component of the surface pressure field. Three main phenomena are observed in the resulting OMEGA surface pressure maps: horizontal pressure gradients, atmospheric oscillations, and pressure perturbations in the vicinity of topographical obstacles. The observed pressure oscillations are identified as possible signatures of phenomena such as inertia-gravity waves or convective rolls. The pressure perturbations detected around the Martian hills and craters may be the signatures of complex interactions between an incoming flow and topographical obstacles. Highly idealized mesoscale simulations using the WRF model enable a preliminary study of these complex interactions, but more realistic mesoscale simulations are necessary. The maps provide valuable insights for future synoptic and mesoscale modeling, which will in turn help in the interpretation of observations.