Weather measurements from Mars entry/descent, and data assimilation

Lewis, Stephen (2015). Weather measurements from Mars entry/descent, and data assimilation. In: Weather on Other Planets: Measurement and Interpretation.



One of the greatest challenges in Martian surface exploration is the successful execution of the entry, descent and landing sequence onto the surface of the planet. The ESA ExoMars 2016 Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module, known as Schiaparelli, is a vehicle carried by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, due to land on Mars (close to the equator and the prime meridian) in October 2016. Schiaparelli will perform scientific measurements during the entry, descent and landing phases and a surface meteorology package will operate for a few days. An entry and descent profile provides a rare in situ measurement of martian atmospheric structure and is a valuable independent complement to more numerous thermal profiles, retrieved using infrared remote sounding or radio occultation. Data assimilation is the process of combining observations with a numerical model in order to produce an evolving estimate of the complete atmospheric state. The talk will illustrate its use in comparing the best estimate of the Martian atmosphere made from other observations with previous entry profiles, interpolating to the correct time and location of the spacecraft entry. It will also show how assimilation can be used to predict meteorological conditions for entry, descent and landing using the example of NASA MSL/Curiosity in 2012.

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