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Mars Climate Sounder (MCS)

NSSDCA ID: 2005-029A-06

Mission Name: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Principal Investigator:Dr. Daniel J. McCleese


The Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) is designed to profile vertical variations of temperature, pressure, dust, and water vapor concentrations in the martian atmosphere. The MCS employs filter radiometry to continuously map the atmosphere in nine spectral channels. The primary measurement objectives of the MCS are to map the three-dimensional and time-varying thermal structure of the atmosphere from the surface to 80 km, the atmospheric dust loading and its global vertical and temporal distribution, the seasonal and spatial variation of the vertical distribution of atmospheric water vapor to an altitude of at least 35 km, the seasonal and spatial variability of atmospheric pressure, the spatial and temporal variability of various atmospheric condensates, and the monitor the polar radiative balance.

MCS is mounted on the nadir-facing deck of the MRO spacecraft. It can look towards the fore, aft, or side limbs of the atmosphere down to the horizon and can move its field of view 270 degrees down to the nadir. The nine spectral channels are distributed between two telescopes. Six channels are sampled by the A telescope (with the main measurement function of each channel listed in parentheses): 0.3 - 3.0 microns (visible and infrared, to study polar radiative balance), 11.5 - 12.2 microns (dust and condensate extinction, 0 - 80 km) , 15.0 - 15.7 microns (temperature, 40 - 80 km, pressure), 15.5 - 16.3 microns (temperature, 40 - 80 km, pressure), 16.3 - 16.8 microns (temperature, 20 - 40 km), and 20 - 25 microns (temperature, 0 - 20 km). The B telescope samples the remaining three channels: 29.4 - 34.5 microns (temperature, 0 - 20 km), 38.5 - 45.5 microns (water vapor mixing ratio, 0 - 40 km), and 40.8 - 43.5 (water vapor mixing ratio, 0 - 40 km). Each channels uses a 21-element linear thernopile infrared detector array to build up profiles of the atmosphere at 5 km vertical resolution leading to three-dimensional global maps of the atmosphere from the surface to about 100 km altitude over time.

Alternate Names

  • MCS
  • MarsReconnaissanceOrbiter/MCS
  • urn:nasa:pds:context:instrument:mcs.mro

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Atmospheres

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Daniel J. McCleeseTeam LeaderNASA Jet Propulsion

Selected References

  • McCleese, D. J., et al., Mars Climate Sounder: An investigation of thermal and water vapor structure, dust and condensate distributions in the atmosphere, and energy balance of the polar regions, J. Geophys. Res., 112, E05S06, doi:10.1029/2006JE002790, 2007.
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