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Fouchet Thierry, Lellouch Emmanuel, Ignatiev Nikolay I., Forget François, Titov Dmitry V., Tschimmel Martin, Montmessin Franck, Formisano Vittorio, Giuranna Marco, Maturilli A., Encrenaz Thérèse

Martian water vapor: Mars Express PFS/LW observations

Icarus, 2007, Issue 1, vol. 190, pp. 32-49

Référence DOI : 10.1016/j.icarus.2007.03.003
Référence ADS : 2007Icar..190...32F

Résumé :

We present the seasonal and geographical variations of the martian water vapor monitored from the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer Long Wavelength Channel aboard the Mars Express spacecraft. Our dataset covers one martian year (end of Mars Year 26, Mars Year 27), but the seasonal coverage is far from complete. The seasonal and latitudinal behavior of the water vapor is globally consistent with previous datasets, Viking Orbiter Mars Atmospheric Water Detectors (MAWD) and Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer (MGS/TES), and with simultaneous results obtained from other Mars Express instruments, OMEGA and SPICAM. However, our absolute water columns are lower and higher by a factor of 1.5 than the values obtained by TES and SPICAM, respectively. In particular, we retrieve a Northern midsummer maximum of 60 pr-mum, lower than the 100-pr-mum observed by TES. The geographical distribution of water exhibits two local maxima at low latitudes, located over Tharsis and Arabia. Global Climate Model (GCM) simulations suggest that these local enhancements are controlled by atmospheric dynamics. During Northern spring, we observe a bulge of water vapor over the seasonal polar cap edge, consistent with the northward transport of water from the retreating seasonal cap to the permanent polar cap. In terms of vertical distribution, we find that the water volume mixing ratio over the large volcanos remains constant with the surface altitude within a factor of two. However, on the whole dataset we find that the water column, normalized to a fixed pressure, is anti-correlated with the surface pressure, indicating a vertical distribution intermediate between control by atmospheric saturation and confinement to a surface layer. This anti-correlation is not reproduced by GCM simulations of the water cycle, which do not include exchange between atmospheric and subsurface water. This situation suggests a possible role for regolith-atmosphere exchange in the martian water cycle.

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