Characterizing Diurnal Density and Temperature Variations in the Martian Atmosphere Using Data/Model Comparisons
This project focuses on using Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) density data for carbon dioxide, oxygen, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen during deep dip campaigns 5, 6, and 8. Density profiles obtained from NGIMS were plotted against simulated density profiles from the Mars Global Ionosphere-Thermosphere Model (MGITM). Averaged temperature profiles were also plotted for the three deep dip campaigns, using NGIMS data and MGITM output. MGITM was also used as a tool to uncover potential heat balance terms needed to reproduce the mean density and temperature profiles measured by NGIMS.
This method of using NGIMS data as a validation tool for MGITM simulations has been tested previously using dayside data from deep dip campaigns 2 and 8. In those cases, MGITM was able to accurately reproduce the measured density and temperature profiles; however, in the deep dip 5 and 6 campaigns, the results are not quite the same, due to the highly variable nature of the nightside thermosphere. MGITM was able to fairly accurately reproduce the density and temperature profiles for deep dip 5, but the deep dip 6 model output showed unexpected significant variation. The deep dip 6 results reveal possible changes to be made to MGITM to more accurately reflect the observed structure of the nighttime thermosphere. In particular, upgrading the model to incorporate a suitable gravity wave parameterization should better capture the role of global winds in maintaining the nighttime thermospheric structure.
This project reveals that there still exist many unknowns about the structure and dynamics of the night side of the Martian atmosphere, as well as significant diurnal variations in density. Further study is needed to uncover these unknowns and their role in atmospheric mass loss.