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High-resolution Martian soil thickness derived from yearly surface temperatures

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The temperature of a planet's surface depends on numerous physical factors, including thermal inertia, albedo and the degree of insolation. Mars is a good target for thermal measurements because the low atmospheric pressure combined with the extreme dryness results in

The temperature of a planet's surface depends on numerous physical factors, including thermal inertia, albedo and the degree of insolation. Mars is a good target for thermal measurements because the low atmospheric pressure combined with the extreme dryness results in a surface dominated by large differences in thermal inertia, minimizing the effect of other physical properties. Since heat is propagated into the surface during the day and re-radiated at night, surface temperatures are affected by sub-surface properties down to several thermal skin depths. Because of this, orbital surface temperature measurements combined with a computational thermal model can be used to determine sub-surface structure. This technique has previously been applied to estimate the thickness and thermal inertia of soil layers on Mars on a regional scale, but the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System "THEMIS" instrument allows much higher-resolution thermal imagery to be obtained. Using archived THEMIS data and the KRC thermal model, a process has been developed for creating high-resolution maps of Martian soil layer thickness and thermal inertia, allowing investigation of the distribution of dust and sand at a scale of 100 m/pixel.

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2013