The Vertical Dust Profile Over Gale Crater, Mars

Scott D. Guzewich*, C. E. Newman, M. D. Smith, J. E. Moores, C. L. Smith, C. Moore, M. I. Richardson, D. Kass, A. Kleinböhl, M. Mischna, F. J. Martín-Torres, M. -P. Zorzano-Mier, M. Battalio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


We create a vertically coarse, but complete, profile of dust mixing ratio from the surface to the upper atmosphere over Gale Crater, Mars, using the frequent joint atmospheric observations of the orbiting Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. Using these data and an estimate of planetary boundary layer (PBL) depth from the MarsWRF general circulation model, we divide the vertical column into three regions. The first region is the Gale Crater PBL, the second is the MCS-sampled region, and the third is between these first two. We solve for a well-mixed dust mixing ratio within this third (middle) layer of atmosphere to complete the profile. We identify a unique seasonal cycle of dust within each atmospheric layer. Within the Gale PBL, dust mixing ratio maximizes near southern hemisphere summer solstice (Ls = 270°) and minimizes near winter solstice (Ls = 90-100°) with a smooth sinusoidal transition between them. However, the layer above Gale Crater and below the MCS-sampled region more closely follows the global opacity cycle and has a maximum in opacity near Ls = 240° and exhibits a local minimum (associated with the "solsticial pause" in dust storm activity) near Ls = 270°. With knowledge of the complete vertical dust profile, we can also assess the frequency of high-altitude dust layers over Gale. We determine that 36% of MCS profiles near Gale Crater contain an "absolute" high-altitude dust layer wherein the dust mixing ratio is the maximum in the entire vertical column.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2779-2792
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Planets
Issue number12
Early online date19 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

This work was funded by a MSL Participating Scientist grant to S.Guzewich. MarsWRF simulations were performed on the NASA Pleiades HighEnd Computing cluster through the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center under Mars Fundamental Research Program and MSL funding by C. Newman and M.Richardson. Work by A. K., D. M. K., and M. M. at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,California Institute of Technology, was performed under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. MCS and MSL data are freely available on the Planetary Data System.


  • Mars
  • atmosphere
  • dust
  • Curiosity
  • MCS
  • Gale Crater


Dive into the research topics of 'The Vertical Dust Profile Over Gale Crater, Mars'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this