Mariner 9 Ultraviolet Spectrometer Experiment: Initial Results

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Science  21 Jan 1972:
Vol. 175, Issue 4019, pp. 309-312
DOI: 10.1126/science.175.4019.309


The ultraviolet airglow spectrum of Mars has been measured from an orbiting spacecraft during a 30-day period in November-December 1971. The emission rates of the carbon monoxide Cameron and fourth positive bands, the atomic oxygen 1304-angstrom line and the atomic hydrogen 1216-angstrom line have been measured as a function of altitude. Significant variations in the scale height of the CO Cameron band airglow have been observed during a period of variable solar activity; however, the atomic oxygen and hydrogen airglow lines are present during all the observations. Measurements of the reflectance of the lower atmosphere of Mars show the spectral characteristics of particle scattering and a magnitude that is about 50 percent of that measured during the Mariner 6 and 7 experiments in 1969. The variation of reflectance across the planet may be represented by a model in which the dominant scatterer is dust that absorbs in the ultraviolet and has an optical depth greater than 1. The atmosphere above the polar region is clearer than over the rest of the planet.