Mars Climate Orbiter
The Mars Climate Orbiter mission aims to provide information about the cycles of water, carbon dioxide, and dust on Mars. The orbiter will study the planet's weather for one year, acquiring data to help scientists better understand the Martian climate. Two instruments board the orbiter, the Pressure Modulator Infrared Radiometer (PMIRR) and the Mars Color Imager (MARCI), will collect this data. PMIRR will observe the global distribution and time variation of temperature, pressure, dust, water vapor, and condensates in the Martian atmosphere. MARCI will observe Martian atmospheric processes at global scale and study details of the interaction of the atmosphere with the surface at a variety of scales in both space and time. In addition to the science payload, the orbiter spacecraft will provide an on-orbit data relay capability for future U.S. and/or international surface stations. Below is a list of the primary scientific goals of the mission:
- Observe the Martian climate from a 400 km near circular, near polar mapping orbit
- Examine general atmospheric circulation patterns and how they affect atmospheric transport and climate change.
- Derive information about atmospheric winds from global temperature observations.
- Observe atmospheric dust to better understand the seasonal dust cycle, including initiation, spreading, and dissipation of global-scale dust storms.
- Examine features on the Martian surface that can provide information about climatic evolution.
- Gain detailed information about interactions occurring between the atmosphere and surface at many scales of space and time.
- Study the seasonal carbon dioxide (CO2) cycle, and examine its interaction with the water and dust cycles.
- Characterize atmospheric clouds and dust hazes; distributions of water vapor & ozone.
- Observe weather systems, including high & low pressure cells, fronts, dust levels and jet streams.
- Observe dust storm onset & movement; surface wind streaks and erosion.
- Determine past climates by imaging surface features, landsforms and surface color change.
- Characterize topographic effects on circulation and response to daily solar heating.
The "Volatiles and Climate History" theme for the 1998 Mars Surveyor missions was recommended by the Mars Science Working Group and is aligned directly with NASA''s Mars exploration strategy for the next decade focusing on: Evidence of past or present life, Climate, and Resources.
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