Validation of martian meteorological data assimilation for MGS/TES using radio occultation measurements

Montabone, L.; Lewis, S.R.; Read, P.L. and Hinson, D.P. (2006). Validation of martian meteorological data assimilation for MGS/TES using radio occultation measurements. Icarus, 185(1) pp. 113–132.



We describe an assimilation of thermal profiles below about 40 km altitude and total dust opacities into a general circulation model (GCM) of the martian atmosphere. The data were provided by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) on board the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. The results of the assimilation are verified against an independent source of contemporaneous data represented by radio occultation measurements with an ultra-stable radio oscillator, also aboard MGS. This paper describes a comparison between temperature profiles retrieved by the radio occultation experiments and the corresponding profiles given by both an independent, carefully tuned GCM simulation and by an assimilation of TES observations performed over the period of time from middle, northern summer in martian year 24, corresponding to May 1999, until late, northern spring in martian year 27, corresponding to August 2004. This study shows that the assimilation of TES measurements improves the overall agreement between radio occultation observations and the GCM analysis, in particular below 20 km altitude, where the radio occultation measurements are known to be most accurate. Discrepancies still remain, mostly during the global dust storm of year 2001 and at latitudes around 60° N in northern winter–early spring. These are the periods of time and locations, however, for which discrepancies between TES and radio occultation profiles are also shown to be the largest. Finally, a further direct validation is performed, comparing stationary waves at selected latitudes and time of year. Apart from biases at high latitudes in winter time, data assimilation is able to represent the correct wave behaviour, which is one major objective for martian assimilation.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions