Reports

Infrared Thermal Mapping of the Martian Surface and Atmosphere: First Results

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Science  27 Aug 1976:
Vol. 193, Issue 4255, pp. 780-786
DOI: 10.1126/science.193.4255.780

Abstract

The Viking infrared thermal mapper measures the thermal emission of the martian surface and atmosphere and the total reflected sunlight. With the high resolution and dense coverage being achieved, planetwide thermal structure is apparent at large and small scales. The thermal behavior of the best-observed areas, the landing sites, cannot be explained by simple homogeneous models. The data contain clear indications for the relevance of additional factors such as detailed surface texture and the occurrence of clouds. Areas in the polar night have temperatures distinctly lower than the CO2 condensation point at the surface pressure. This observation implies that the annual atmospheric condensation is less than previously assumed and that either thick CO2 clouds exist at the 20-kilometer level or that the polar atmosphere is locally enriched by noncondensable gases.

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