Mars Upper Level Winds Observed by MAVEN - Visualizations

  • Released Thursday, December 12, 2019
  • ID: 4755

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.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard/SVS/MAVEN/CU Boulder/University of Michigan


This visualization is related to the following missions:

Datasets used in this visualization

MGS (Collected with the MOC sensor)
MAVEN NGIMS (A.K.A. Average Neutral Upper Level Wind Vectors) (Collected with the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer sensor)
Observed DataNASA

Average neutral winds as observed by MAVEN/NGIMS during 33 monthly campaigns spanning from April 2016 to December 2018.

Credit: NGIMS: MAVEN Science Team

See more visualizations using this data set
CelesTrak Spacecraft Orbit Ephemeris
Hipparcos Tycho Catalogue (A.K.A. Tycho 2 Catalogue) (Collected with the Telescope sensor)

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.

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