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High TRL lidar wind and aerosol sensing for Mars Atmospheric Applications

Presentation #001.07 in the session “Future Missions, Instruments, and Facilities”.

Published onOct 26, 2020
High TRL lidar wind and aerosol sensing for Mars Atmospheric Applications

As the complex Martian climate system is highly coupled to winds and radiative properties of atmospheric dust and ice aerosols, lack of direct observations of Mars wind and dust aerosol profiles limits the ability to address high priority scientific questions about atmospheric dynamics and dust, water, energy, mass, and momentum cycles in the Mars atmosphere. For decades, Doppler wind lidar technologies have been demonstrated for Earth Science weather and meteorological applications around the globe. ESA’s Aeolus mission, launched into Earth orbit on August 2018, is currently providing the first on-orbit measurements of vertically resolved horizontal wind speed from both aerosol and molecular (Rayleigh) atmospheric returns for use in operational forecast models. The Optical Autocovariance Wind Lidar (OAWL) technology, developed at Ball with internal and NASA funding and demonstrated in ground and aircraft applications, provides an approach to measuring winds from aerosol and/or molecular returns. The flexible OAWL approach enables optimization of wind measurement under a wide range of atmospheric applications, including for the low-pressure, high dust-aerosol-content of the Mars atmosphere. Optimization for the Mars atmosphere also enables pairing of an OAWL interferometer with an unseeded laser, greatly simplifying the laser technology and risk, particularly in comparison to other lidar approaches proposed for measuring winds around Mars. In addition to wind demonstrations, the OAWL system has also demonstrated high spectral resolution lidar (HSRL) capability that could provide novel information on the distribution and properties of Mars atmospheric aerosols and their relationship to Mars wind fields.


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