Mariner Ultraviolet Spectrometer: Topography and Polar Cap

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Science  16 Jul 1971:
Vol. 173, Issue 3993, pp. 197-201
DOI: 10.1126/science.173.3993.197


Mars, the red planet, reflects sunlight in the ultraviolet, but it is the atmosphere, not the surface, that is responsible for the reflected light. Even though there are atmospheric scatterers in addition to the molecular scatterers, it is possible to relate the intensity of the scattered radiation with the atmospheric pressure. The variation of pressure over the planet reveals the topography to vary over 7 kilometers in height and to be correlated with visible features. The carbon dioxide polar cap, in addition to being a cold trap for volatile gases in the atmosphere, may alsobe a very efficient adsorption trap for nonvolatiles. This last property may make the cap a repository for gases produced by geological or biological activity (15).