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Journal Articles The Planetary Science Journal Year : 2021

MOSAIC: A Satellite Constellation to Enable Groundbreaking Mars Climate System Science and Prepare for Human Exploration

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Robert J. Lillis
  • Function : Author
  • PersonId : 1138152
David Mitchell
Luca Montabone
Nicholas Heavens
Scott Guzewich
Paul Withers
Shannon Curry
Chi Ao
Steven Matousek
Ryan Woolley
Isaac Smith
Gordon R. Osinski
Armin Kleinböhl
Leslie Tamppari
Michael Mischna
David Kass
Michael Wolff
Bruce Cantor
Amanda Brecht
Stephen Bougher
Janet Luhmann
François Leblanc
Jasper Halekas
Jared Espley
Hermann Opgenoorth
Sami Asmar
Joshua Vander Hook
Aroh Barjatya
Abhishek Tripathi

Abstract

The Martian climate system has been revealed to rival the complexity of Earth's. Over the last 20 yr, a fragmented and incomplete picture has emerged of its structure and variability; we remain largely ignorant of many of the physical processes driving matter and energy flow between and within Mars' diverse climate domains. Mars Orbiters for Surface, Atmosphere, and Ionosphere Connections (MOSAIC) is a constellation of ten platforms focused on understanding these climate connections, with orbits and instruments tailored to observe the Martian climate system from three complementary perspectives. First, low-circular near-polar Sun-synchronous orbits (a large mothership and three smallsats spaced in local time) enable vertical profiling of wind, aerosols, water, and temperature, as well as mapping of surface and subsurface ice. Second, elliptical orbits sampling all of Mars' plasma regions enable multipoint measurements necessary to understand mass/energy transport and ion-driven escape, also enabling, with the polar orbiters, dense radio occultation coverage. Last, longitudinally spaced areostationary orbits enable synoptic views of the lower atmosphere necessary to understand global and mesoscale dynamics, global views of the hydrogen and oxygen exospheres, and upstream measurements of space weather conditions. MOSAIC will characterize climate system variability diurnally and seasonally, on meso-, regional, and global scales, targeting the shallow subsurface all the way out to the solar wind, making many first-of-their-kind measurements. Importantly, these measurements will also prepare for human exploration and habitation of Mars by providing water resource prospecting, operational forecasting of dust and radiation hazards, and ionospheric communication/positioning disruptions.
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Dates and versions

insu-03381683 , version 1 (17-10-2021)

Licence

Attribution - CC BY 4.0

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Robert J. Lillis, David Mitchell, Luca Montabone, Nicholas Heavens, Tanya Harrison, et al.. MOSAIC: A Satellite Constellation to Enable Groundbreaking Mars Climate System Science and Prepare for Human Exploration. The Planetary Science Journal, 2021, 2, 211 (59 pp). ⟨10.3847/psj/ac0538⟩. ⟨insu-03381683⟩
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