Planets and Moons  ID: 4755

Mars Upper Level Winds Observed by MAVEN - Visualizations

MAVEN is the first spacecraft specifically designed to study the Mars upper atmosphere, in order to better understand the evolution of its climate. These visualizations show MAVEN measuring the Martian upper level wind direction and magnitude over a series of thirty-three campaigns. In order for MAVEN to make these in-situ measurements, the spacecraft must be close to the upper atmosphere. The closest point of MAVEN's orbit to Mars (periapsis) dips into the tenuous upper reaches of the Martian thermosphere. The orbit also precesses over time to acquire measurements from different regions on the planet.

Now, scientists have used MAVEN data to map high-altitude wind currents on Mars for the first time. The data show that the Martian upper atmosphere is relatively independent of the daily rotation of Mars. On a day-to-day basis, high-altitude wind currents have a relatively fixed location with respect to the Sun, while Mars rotates underneath. Over the course of the Martian year, however, the currents follow the Sun north to south with the seasons.

MAVEN has also found that higher-elevation regions, such as the Tharsis plateau, cause small gravity waves that perturb the upper level winds and make them alter course. This means that certain topographic features on the Martian surface are detectable by MAVEN high above, as it skims the edge of space.

Used Elsewhere In


For More Information

University of Colorado Boulder MAVEN website

Visualization Credits

Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Lead Visualizer
Ernie Wright (USRA): Visualizer
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Visualizer
Mehdi Benna (UMBC): Lead Scientist
Kali Roeten (University of Michigan): Scientist
Dan Gallagher (USRA): Producer
Laurence Schuler (ADNET): Technical Support
Ian Jones (ADNET): Technical Support
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard/SVS/MAVEN/CU Boulder/University of Michigan

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MAVEN: Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN

Data Used:
CelesTrak Spacecraft Orbit Ephemeris
Hipparcos/Telescope/Tycho 2 Catalogue also referred to as: Tycho Catalogue
MAVEN/Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer/Average Neutral Upper Level Wind Vectors also referred to as: NGIMS
Observed Data - NASA
Average neutral winds as observed by MAVEN/NGIMS during 33 monthly campaigns spanning from April 2016 to December 2018.
NGIMS: MAVEN Science Team
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

SVS >> Mars
GCMD >> Location >> Thermosphere
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Solar System >> Planets >> Mars >> Topography
SVS >> Wind Patterns
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
SVS >> Mars Atmosphere
SVS >> Mars Upper Atmosphere

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version