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The LIDAR's Science Goals

LIDAR The Mars Microphone LIDAR and Microphone Team


dust storm To understand what makes dust storms on Mars start and evolve, we need to learn more about the planet's dust dynamics and atmospheric structure.

Exciting images like this Mars Global Surveyor view of the Viking Lander 1 site through a dust storm are only the start of the data we need to better understand the Red Planet's atmosphere. Daily and seasonal variations of the dust, haze and aerosol in the Martian atmosphere near the surface are frequently required in investigations of small dust storms.

The Mars Polar Lander will touch down on the Martian surface near the south pole (78 degrees south) at the beginning of the Martian summer. As the following scientific goals state, we are trying to get a better picture of Mars' atmosphere, meteorology, and environment by looking at the evolution of aerosols and the atmosphere's stratification.

The scientific goals of LIDAR are to:

  • Study the evolution of aerosols and stratification of the atmosphere, as well as acquire meteorological and environmental information
  • Provide measurements of atmospheric parameters not attainable by other techniques, such as the structure of the near-surface boundary layer and the dynamic of its scattering properties (this is actually the instrument's main objective)
  • Measure the daily and seasonal variability and the vertical structure of the Martian atmosphere
  • Detect cloud and fog appearances
  • Measure incoming solar radiation and its correlation with atmospheric turbidity
  • Measure the depolarization factor of the sky emission


"LIDAR for Mars Polar Lander," by V.M.Linkin, A.N.Lipatov, V.S.Makarov, L.I.Kchlioustova, S.M.Pershin, A.N.Lyash, A.V.Buckharin A.V.Tiurin, G.P.Arumov, B.S.Zubkov, E.N.Evlanov.

Mars Global Surveyor image courtesy of Malin Space Science Systems and NASA/JPL/Caltech.

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