Mariners 6 and 7: Radio Occultation Measurements of the Atmosphere of Mars

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Science  12 Dec 1969:
Vol. 166, Issue 3911, pp. 1393-1397
DOI: 10.1126/science.166.3911.1393


Radio occultation measurements with Mariners 6 and 7 provided refractivity data in the atmosphiere of Mars at four points above its surface. For an atmosphere consisting predominantly of carbon dioxide, surface pressures between 6 and 7 millibars are obtained at three of the points of measurement, and 3.8 at the fourth, indicating an elevation of 5 to 6 kilometers. The temperature profile measured by Mariner 6 near the equator in the daytime indicates temperatures in the stratosphere about 100°K warmer than those predicted by theory. The measurements of Mariner 6 taken at 79°N at the beginning of polar night indicate that conditions are favorable for the condensation of carbon dioxide at almost all altitudes. Mariner 7 measurements taken at 58°S in daytime and 38°N at night also show that carbon dioxide condensation is possible at altitudes above about 25 kilometers. Measurements of the electron density in the ionosphere show that the upper atmosphere is substantially warmer than it was in 1965, possibly because of increased solar activity and closer proximity to the sun.