Relevance of ASPEN-Mars to Mission Development and Planning
The ASPEN-Mars model will contribute several important components to any Mars aeronomy mission.
3.1 ASPEN-Mars and Instrument Design
3.2 ASPEN-Mars and Mission Design
3.3 ASPEN-Mars and Data Analysis
Temperature, Winds and Composition
The ASPEN-Mars model simulates all of the atmospheric parameters to be measured by a typical aeronomy mission through most of the altitudes of interest (above 14 km). These include temperatures, winds and composition. For example, a mission might measure CH4, H, H2O, CO, CO2, O, OH, Na, NO) from 20-130 km. All of these species are simulated by ASPEN-Mars, and our understanding of the measurements will be enhanced by the ability of ASPEN-Mars to provide a complete chemical analysis combined with fully coupled thermal and dynamical terms affecting the species distribution. Of particular interest is our ability to simulate the methane distribution and its transport by winds.
Aerobraking and Density
The ASPEN-Mars model can also be used in aerobraking studies. In Mars Data Analysis we briefly described comparisons between ASPEN-Mars simulations and density measurements from MGS and Mars Odyssey. Thus, ASPEN-Mars has been tested in the aerobraking regime, and performed well, capturing global thermospheric structures.
Gravity waves, Planetary waves, and Tides
Another important aspect of Mars is the effects of gravity waves, planetary waves, and tides on the variability of the atmosphere. The global 3-D ASPEN-Mars model includes the ability to force the lower boundary of the model to investigate the effects of tides and gravity waves as they propagate upwards in the atmosphere. An aeronomy mission would likely provide measurements of some tidal, planetary, and gravity wave components, and ASPEN-Mars would be available to study their contributions to temperature, wind and compositional variations at altitudes between 14 km and the exobase near 250-300 km.