alexa Planetary Exploration; Mars on the Scope
ISSN: 2332-2519

Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach
Open Access

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Research Article

Planetary Exploration; Mars on the Scope

Buenestado JF1, Zorzano MP2, Salinas AS3, Méndez CF3and Martín-Torres J1,4*
1Division of Space Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Luleå Technical University, Kiruna, Sweden
2Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC), Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain
3Escuela de Ingeniería Aeronáutica y del Espacio, Universidad Politécnica, Madrid, Spain
4Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias dela Tierra (CSIC-UGR), Granada, Spain
Corresponding Author : Martín-Torres J
Division of Space Technology
Department of Computer Science
Electrical and Space Engineering
Luleå Technical University
Kiruna, Sweden
Tel: +46 (0)980 67545
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: June 09, 2015 Accepted:July 02, 2015 Published: July 06, 2015
Citation:Buenestado JF, Zorzano MP, Salinas AS, Méndez CF, Martín-Torres J (2015) Planetary Exploration; Mars on the Scope. Astrobiol Outreach 3: 133. doi:10.4172/2332-2519.1000133
Copyright: © 2015 Buenestado JF, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
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Abstract

This article summarizes a practical case of introduction to research and planetary exploration through the analysis of data from the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), one of the ten scientific instruments on board the Curiosity rover of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), currently operating at the impact crater Gale, on Mars. It is the main aim of this work to show how the data that are publicly available at the Planetary Data System (PDS) can be used to introduce undergraduate students and the general public into the subject of surface exploration and the environment of Mars. In particular, the goal of this practice was to investigate and quantify the heat-flux between the rover spacecraft and the Martian surface, the role of the atmosphere in this interaction, and its dependence with seasons, as well as to estimate the thermal contamination of the Martian ground produced by the rover. The ground temperature sensor (GTS) of the REMS instrument has measured in-situ, for the first time ever, the diurnal and seasonal variation of the temperature of the surface on Mars along the rover traverse. This novel study shows that the rover radiative heat flux varies between 10 and 22 W/m2 during the Martian year, which is more than 10% of the solar daily averaged insolation at the top of the atmosphere. In addition, it is shown that the radiative heat flux from the rover to the ground varies with the atmospheric dust load, being the mean annual amplitude of the diurnal variation of the surface temperature of 76 K, as a result of solar heating during the day and infrared cooling during the night. As a remarkable and unexpected outcome, it has been established that the thermal contamination produced by the rover alone induces, on average, a systematic shift of 7.5 K, which is indeed about 10% of the one produced by solar heating. This result may have implications for the design and operation of future surface exploration probes such as Insight.

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