The Modern Near-Surface Martian Climate: A Review of In-situ Meteorological Data from Viking to Curiosity

G. M. Martínez, C. N. Newman, A. De Vicente-Retortillo, E. Fischer, N. O. Renno, M. I. Richardson, A. G. Fairén, M. Genzer, S. D. Guzewich, R. M. Haberle, A.-M. Harri, O. Kemppinen, M. T. Lemmon, M. D. Smith, M. de la Torre-Juárez,. A. R. Vasavada. 2017. The Modern Near-Surface Martian Climate: A Review of In-situ Meteorological Data from Viking to Curiosity. Space Science Reviews 212, 1-2, 295-338, DOI: 10.1007/s11214-017-0360-x

We analyze the complete set of in-situ meteorological data obtained from the Viking landers in the 1970s to today’s Curiosity rover to review our understanding of the modern near-surface climate of Mars, with focus on the dust, CO2 and H2O cycles and their impact on the radiative and thermodynamic conditions near the surface. In particular, we provide values of the highest confidence possible for atmospheric opacity, atmospheric pressure, near-surface air temperature, ground temperature, near-surface wind speed and direction, and near-surface air relative humidity and water vapor content. Then, we study the diurnal, seasonal and interannual variability of these quantities over a span of more than twenty Martian years. Finally, we propose measurements to improve our understanding of the Martian dust and H2O cycles, and discuss the potential for liquid water formation under Mars’ present day conditions and its implications for future Mars missions. Understanding the modern Martian climate is important to determine if Mars could have the conditions to support life and to prepare for future human exploration.

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