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Ground-atmosphere interactions at Gale
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Madrid.
University of Washington.
Show others and affiliations
2013 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

We analyze variations in environmental parameters and regolith properties along Curiosity’s track to determine the possible causes of an abrupt change in the thermal properties of the ground and the atmosphere observed around Sol 120, as the rover transitioned from an area of sandy soil (Rocknest) to an area of fractured bedrock terrain (Yellowknife). Curiosity is instrumented with the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) sensors to measure the air temperature, the ground temperature, and the hydrogen content of the shallow subsurface along Curiosity’s track. Analysis of the REMS data is used to estimate the regolith’s heat budget. This analysis suggests that the abrupt decrease in the ground and atmosphere temperature and the difference between ground and air temperatures observed around Sol 120 is likely caused by an increase in the soil thermal inertia. The changes in thermal inertia have been known for some time so confirming this by the REMS package provides ground truthing. A new unexpected finding is that the regolith water content, as indicated by DAN’s detection of hydrogen content, is higher in the Yellowknife soil. Another interesting finding at this site are the holes and other signs of recent geological activity in the area of fractured terrain that may reflect large volumetric variations and facilitate gas exchange between the ground and atmosphere. Near-surface volumetric changes in soil and bedrock could reflect changes in the volume of subsurface H2O, or in the partitioning of H2O among its three phases. Volume increases could also result from salt crystal growth in rock pores and soil pores associated with the adsorption of water vapor. Crystallization in pores is a significant weathering process on Earth; it could well be active on Mars. Salts also inhibits the exchange of moisture between the ground and the atmosphere, and cements the soils of arid places such as in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica. Indeed, salts might be responsible for the ubiquitous martian duricrust. More importantly, salt crusts have the potential to create pockets of wet regolith in the shallow martian subsurface that could be habitable. A better understanding of ground-atmosphere interactions has the potential to shed new light into aqueous processes in the shallow martian subsurface.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
National Category
Aerospace Engineering
Research subject
Atmospheric science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-39331Local ID: e05b643a-e4da-4288-b66c-15d597741855OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-39331DiVA, id: diva2:1012842
Conference
American Geophysical Union. 2013 Fall meeting : 09/12/2013 - 13/12/2013
Note
Upprättat; 2013; 20150630 (ninhul)Available from: 2016-10-03 Created: 2016-10-03 Last updated: 2017-11-25Bibliographically approved

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Martin-Torres, Javier

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