Viudez Moreiras, D., Gómez Elvira, J., Newman, C. E.,Navarro, S., Marín, M., Torres, J., De la Torre Juare, M. 2019. Gale surface wind characterization based on the Mars Science Laboratory REMS dataset. Part II: Wind probability distributions. Icarus 319, 645-656.
The characterization of Martian surface wind speed as a function of time of day and season at one location can increase our knowledge of Mars surface conditions and assist in planning for future unmanned and manned missions, since the probability of the wind speed exceeding a given value is often required for both engineering and geophysical applications. Wind speeds are also useful for assessing the aeolian impact of the circulation. The Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover has been measuring Martian winds since 2012, thus has provided more than two Mars years of wind data in the first Martian landing site with significant topography. Unfortunately, dust debris during the MSL landing stage damaged the sensor, making difficult to extract useful wind data. This paper complements the characterization performed in the companion paper, by producing a wind speed characterization based on probability distribution models. Significant diurnal and seasonal wind speed variability is found, due to complex interactions between the synoptic flow, the regional and local slope winds and microscale flow around MSL. The highest wind speed probabilities are found in general during the midday period, particularly around the equinoxes. In addition, the REMS data suggest strong flows during the summer nighttime, which could be related to the increased aeolian activity detected then by MSL.