The Structure of the Upper Atmosphere of Mars: In Situ Accelerometer Measurements from Mars Global Surveyor

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Abstract

The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) z-axis accelerometer has obtained over 200 vertical structures of thermospheric density, temperature, and pressure, ranging from 110 to 170 kilometers, compared to only three previous such vertical structures. In November 1997, a regional dust storm in the Southern Hemisphere triggered an unexpectedly large thermospheric response at mid-northern latitudes, increasing the altitude of thermospheric pressure surfaces there by as much as 8 kilometers and indicating a strong global thermospheric response to a regional dust storm. Throughout the MGS mission, thermospheric density bulges have been detected on opposite sides of the planet near 90[degree sign]E and 90[degree sign]W, in the vicinity of maximum terrain heights. This wave 2 pattern may be caused by topographically-forced planetary waves propagating up from the lower atmosphere.

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