Temperatures of the Martian Surface and Atmosphere: Viking Observation of Diurnal and Geometric Variations

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Science  17 Dec 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4271, pp. 1346-1351
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4271.1346


Selected observations made with the Viking infrared thermal mapper after the first landing are reported. Atmospheric temperatures measured at the latitude of the Viking 2 landing site (48 ° N) over most of a martian day reveal a diurnal variation of at least 15 K, with peak temperatures occurring near 2.2 hours after noon, implying significant absorption of sunlight in the lower 30 km of the atmosphere by entrained dust. The summit temperature of Arsia Mons varies by a factor of nearly two each day; large diurnal temperature variation is characteristic of the south Tharsis upland and implies the presence of low thermal inertia material. The thermal inertia of material on the floors of several typical large craters is found to be higher than for the surrounding terrain; this suggests that craters are somehow effective in sorting aeolian material. Brightness temperatures of the Viking 1 landing area decrease at large emission angles; the intensity of reflected sunlight shows a more complex dependence on geometry than expected, implying atmospheric as well as surface scattering.