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      Dust deposition on the decks of the Mars Exploration Rovers: 10 years of dust dynamics on the Panoramic Camera calibration targets

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          The Panoramic Cameras on NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers have each returned more than 17,000 images of their calibration targets. In order to make optimal use of this data set for reflectance calibration, a correction must be made for the presence of air fall dust. Here we present an improved dust correction procedure based on a two‐layer scattering model, and we present a dust reflectance spectrum derived from long‐term trends in the data set. The dust on the calibration targets appears brighter than dusty areas of the Martian surface. We derive detailed histories of dust deposition and removal revealing two distinct environments: At the Spirit landing site, half the year is dominated by dust deposition, the other half by dust removal, usually in brief, sharp events. At the Opportunity landing site the Martian year has a semiannual dust cycle with dust removal happening gradually throughout two removal seasons each year. The highest observed optical depth of settled dust on the calibration target is 1.5 on Spirit and 1.1 on Opportunity (at 601 nm). We derive a general prediction for dust deposition rates of 0.004 ± 0.001 in units of surface optical depth deposited per sol (Martian solar day) per unit atmospheric optical depth. We expect this procedure to lead to improved reflectance‐calibration of the Panoramic Camera data set. In addition, it is easily adapted to similar data sets from other missions in order to deliver improved reflectance calibration as well as data on dust reflectance properties and deposition and removal history.

          Key Points

          • We present an improved method for dust‐correcting calibration target images

          • The maximum deposited optical depth is 1.5 for Spirit and 1.1 for Opportunity

          • The two MER landing sites exhibit very different dust histories

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          Most cited references 10

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          The Opportunity Rover's Athena science investigation at Meridiani Planum, Mars.

          The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has investigated the landing site in Eagle crater and the nearby plains within Meridiani Planum. The soils consist of fine-grained basaltic sand and a surface lag of hematite-rich spherules, spherule fragments, and other granules. Wind ripples are common. Underlying the thin soil layer, and exposed within small impact craters and troughs, are flat-lying sedimentary rocks. These rocks are finely laminated, are rich in sulfur, and contain abundant sulfate salts. Small-scale cross-lamination in some locations provides evidence for deposition in flowing liquid water. We interpret the rocks to be a mixture of chemical and siliciclastic sediments formed by episodic inundation by shallow surface water, followed by evaporation, exposure, and desiccation. Hematite-rich spherules are embedded in the rock and eroding from them. We interpret these spherules to be concretions formed by postdepositional diagenesis, again involving liquid water.
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            An integrated view of the chemistry and mineralogy of martian soils

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              Results from the Mars Pathfinder camera.

              Images of the martian surface returned by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder (IMP) show a complex surface of ridges and troughs covered by rocks that have been transported and modified by fluvial, aeolian, and impact processes. Analysis of the spectral signatures in the scene (at 440- to 1000-nanometer wavelength) reveal three types of rock and four classes of soil. Upward-looking IMP images of the predawn sky show thin, bluish clouds that probably represent water ice forming on local atmospheric haze (opacity approximately 0.5). Haze particles are about 1 micrometer in radius and the water vapor column abundance is about 10 precipitable micrometers.

                Author and article information

                [ 1 ] Niels Bohr InstituteUniversity of Copenhagen CopenhagenDenmark
                [ 2 ] School of Earth and Space ExplorationArizona State University Phoenix ArizonaUSA
                [ 3 ]Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research GöttingenGermany
                [ 4 ] Applied Physics LaboratoryJohns Hopkins University Laurel MarylandUSA
                [ 5 ] Department of AstronomyCornell University Ithaca New YorkUSA
                [ 6 ] Neural Dynamics and Computation LaboratoryStanford University Stanford CaliforniaUSA
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence to: K. M. Kinch,


                Earth Space Sci
                Earth Space Sci
                Earth and Space Science (Hoboken, N.j.)
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                May 2015
                23 May 2015
                : 2
                : 5 ( doiID: 10.1002/ess2.v2.5 )
                : 144-172
                ESS223 2014EA000073
                ©2015. The Authors.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

                Pages: 29
                Funded by: Danish Natural Science Foundation
                Award ID: 09‐062360
                Award ID: 0602‐02713
                Award ID: 4002‐00292
                Planetary Sciences: Solid Surface Planets
                Instruments and Techniques
                Surface Materials and Properties
                Rings and Dust
                Remote Sensing
                Research Article
                Research Articles
                Custom metadata
                May 2015
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:4.9.4 mode:remove_FC converted:09.09.2016

                camera, mars, reflectance, calibration, dust


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