SEMINARY (auditorium CAB) 18-02-2016. Mars Meteorology as Determined from REMS and MRAMS

By Jorge Pla-García, from Planetology and Habitability Department (CAB).

Title: Mars Meteorology (Gale Crater) as Determined from Rover Environmental Monitoring Station Observations (REMS) and Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS)

Abstract: Gale Crater, in which the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover Curiosity landed in August 2012, is the most topographically complex area visited to date on Mars. The meteorology within the crater may also be one of the most dynamically complex meteorological environments, because topography is thought to strongly drive the near-surface atmospheric circulations. The Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) aboard Curiosity rover, has returned data of this complex meteorology. As with all single station measurements, the meteorological interpretation is hindered by a lack of spatial context in which to place the observations. Ideally, numerical models properly validated against the observations can be used to provide this context.


For this purpose, MRAMS (Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System) has been configured using nested grids with a spacing of 330 meters on the innermost grid that is centered over the landing site. A full diurnal cycle, at four different seasons has been investigated at the rover location inside Gale Crater. REMS observations have been compared to data from MRAMS. Model results have shown to be in good agreement with the observations when considering the uncertainties in the observational data set. There is an inherent assumption that this reasonable agreement may be extrapolated to all places in the model domain, and that the model simulations can be used to investigate the broader meteorological environment of the Gale Crater region.


As expected, there are strong indications that there is a complex interplay between circulations over a large range of spatial and temporal scales (global, regional and local). The synergistic combination of model and observations reveals a complex meteorological environment within the crater. Summer is shown to be an anomalous season when air within and outside the crater is well mixed by strong, flushing northerly flow and large amplitude, breaking mountain waves. At other seasons, the air in the crater is more isolated from the surrounding environment. The potential impact of the partially isolated crater air mass on the dust, water, noncondensable and methane cycles is considered. The crater circulation is shown to induce a suppressed boundary layer.

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