Development of the Surface Thermal Environment for the Mars Scout Phoenix Mission
Phoenix is NASA's first Mars Scouts Mission that will place a soft-lander on the Martian surface at a high northern latitude. Much of the Mars surface environmental flight data from landed missions pertains to the near-equatorial regions. However, orbital observations have yielded very useful data about the surface environment. These data along with a simple, but highly effective one-dimensional atmospheric model was used to develop the Phoenix surface thermal environment. As candidate landing sites were identified, parametric studies including statistical variations were conducted to prescribe minimum nighttime and maximum daytime temperature design Sols (a Martian day). Atmospheric effects such as clouds and ice were considered. Finally, recent candidate landing site imaging conducted by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter revealed that the prime site contained a much higher rock density than first thought.