Cloud Observations from the Mars Science Laboratory Mission: Seasonal Variability, Scattering Phase Function, and Validation of Optical Depths using Lidar Measurements of Terrestrial Cirrus Clouds
Kloos, Jacob Lawrence
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Using images from the Navigation Cameras onboard the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity, atmospheric movies were created to monitor the cloud activity above its landing site, Gale Crater. Over the course of two Martian years of operations (LS = 160 of MY 31 to LS = 160 of MY 33), over 500 cloud imaging sequences have been returned to Earth, revealing tenuous clouds that form predominantly in the autumn and winter seasons. This thesis examines the results of these cloud observations, including a detailed overview of the seasonality, opacity, spacing, and scattering properties of the clouds that appear in the observations. The cloud opacities were validated by testing the high cloud method by imaging high altitude cirrus clouds using a radiometrically calibrated camera and captur- ing simultaneous measurements wth the York University Lidar. In total, four coordinated experiments were conducted between September of 2015 and June of 2016.