A two‐Martian year survey of the water vapor saturation state on Mars based on ACS NIR/TGO occultations

Fedorova, Anna; Montmessin, Franck; Trokhimovskiy, Alexander; Luginin, Mikhail; Korablev, Oleg; Alday, Juan; Belyaev, Denis; Holmes, James; Lefevre, Franck; Olsen, Kevin; Patrakeev, Andrey and Shakun, Alexey (2022). A two‐Martian year survey of the water vapor saturation state on Mars based on ACS NIR/TGO occultations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 128(1) (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2022je007348


On Mars, condensation is the major factor constraining the vertical distribution of water vapor. Recent measurements of water and temperature profiles showed that water can be strongly supersaturated at and above the level where clouds form during the aphelion and perihelion seasons. Since 2018, the near-infrared spectrometer (NIR) of the Atmospheric Chemistry Suite onboard the Trace Gas Orbiter has measured H2O and temperature profiles using solar occultation in the infrared from below 10 to 100 km of altitude. Here, we provide the first long-term monitoring of the water saturation state. The survey spans 2 Martian years from Ls = 163° of MY34 to Ls = 170° of MY36. We found that water is often supersaturated above aerosol layers. In the aphelion season, the water mixing ratio above 40 km in the mid-to-high latitudes was below 3 ppmv and yet is found to be supersaturated. Around the perihelion, water is also supersaturated above 60 km with a mixing ratio of 30–50 ppmv. Stronger saturation is observed during the dusty season in MY35 compared to what was observed in MY34 during the Global Dust Storm and around the perihelion. Saturation varied between the evening and morning terminators in response to temperature modulation imparted by thermal tides. Although water vapor is more abundant in the evening, colder morning temperatures induce a daily peak of saturation. This data set establishes a new paradigm for water vapor on Mars, revealing that supersaturation is nearly ubiquitous, particularly during the dust season, thereby promoting water escape on an annual average.

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