Soil and Surface Temperatures at the Viking Landing Sites

Science  17 Dec 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4271, pp. 1344-1346
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4271.1344


The annual temperature range for the martian surface at the Viking lander sites is computed on the basis of thermal parameters derived from observations made with the infrared thermal mappers. The Viking lander 1 (VL1) site has small annual variations in temperature, whereas the Viking lander 2 (VL2) site has large annual changes. With the Viking lander images used to estimate the rock component of the thermal emission, the daily temperature behavior of the soil alone is computed over the range of depths accessible to the lander; when the VL1 and VL2 sites were sampled, the daily temperature ranges at the top of the soil were 183 to 263 K and 183 to 268 K, respectively. The diurnal variation decreases with depth with an exponential scale of about 5 centimeters. The maximum temperature of the soil sampled from beneath rocks at the VL2 site is calculated to be 230 K. These temperature calculations should provide a reference for study of the active chemistry reported for the martian soil.

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