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Kite E.S.,California Institute of Technology | Lewis K.W.,Princeton University | Lamb M.P.,California Institute of Technology | Newman C.E.,Ashima Research | Richardson M.I.,Ashima Research
Geology | Year: 2013

Ancient sediments provide archives of climate and habitability on Mars. Gale Crater, the landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), hosts a 5-km-high sedimentary mound (Mount Sharp/Aeolis Mons). Hypotheses for mound formation include evaporitic, lacustrine, fluviodeltaic, and aeolian processes, but the origin and original extent of Gale's mound is unknown. Here we show new measurements of sedimentary strata within the mound that indicate ~3° outward dips oriented radially away from the mound center, inconsistent with the first three hypotheses. Moreover, although mounds are widely considered to be erosional remnants of a once craterfilling unit, we find that the Gale mound's current form is close to its maximal extent. Instead we propose that the mound's structure, stratigraphy, and current shape can be explained by growth in place near the center of the crater mediated by wind-topography feedbacks. Our model shows how sediment can initially accrete near the crater center far from crater-wall katabatic winds, until the increasing relief of the resulting mound generates mound-flank slope winds strong enough to erode the mound. The slope wind enhanced erosion and transport (SWEET) hypothesis indicates mound formation dominantly by aeolian deposition with limited organic carbon preservation potential, and a relatively limited role for lacustrine and fluvial activity. Morphodynamic feedbacks between wind and topography are widely applicable to a range of sedimentary and ice mounds across the Martian surface, and possibly other planets. © 2013 Geological Society of America.

Kositsky A.P.,Ashima Research | Avouac J.-P.,California Institute of Technology
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth | Year: 2010

The Global Positioning System (GPS) system now makes it possible to monitor deformation of the Earth's surface along plate boundaries with unprecedented accuracy. In theory, the spatiotemporal evolution of slip on the plate boundary at depth, associated with either seismic or aseismic slip, can be inferred from these measurements through some inversion procedure based on the theory of dislocations in an elastic half-space. We describe and test a principal component analysis-based inversion method (PCAIM), an inversion strategy that relies on principal component analysis of the surface displacement time series. We prove that the fault slip history can be recovered from the inversion of each principal component. Because PCAIM does not require externally imposed temporal filtering, it can deal with any kind of time variation of fault slip. We test the approach by applying the technique to synthetic geodetic time series to show that a complicated slip history combining coseismic, postseismic, and nonstationary interseismic slip can be retrieved from this approach. PCAIM produces slip models comparable to those obtained from standard inversion techniques with less computational complexity. We also compare an afterslip model derived from the PCAIM inversion of postseismic displacements following the 2005 8.6 Nias earthquake with another solution obtained from the extended network inversion filter (ENIF). We introduce several extensions of the algorithm to allow statistically rigorous integration of multiple data sources (e.g., both GPS and interferometric synthetic aperture radar time series) over multiple timescales. PCAIM can be generalized to any linear inversion algorithm. © 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.

Toigo A.D.,Johns Hopkins University | Lee C.,Ashima Research | Newman C.E.,Ashima Research | Richardson M.I.,Ashima Research
Icarus | Year: 2012

We investigate the sensitivity of the circulation and thermal structure of the martian atmosphere to numerical model resolution in a general circulation model (GCM) using the martian implementation (MarsWRF) of the planetWRF atmospheric model. We provide a description of the MarsWRF GCM and use it to study the global atmosphere at horizontal resolutions from 7.5° × 9° to 0.5° × 0.5°, encompassing the range from standard Mars GCMs to global mesoscale modeling. We find that while most of the gross-scale features of the circulation (the rough location of jets, the qualitative thermal structure, and the major large-scale features of the surface level winds) are insensitive to horizontal resolution over this range, several major features of the circulation are sensitive in detail. The northern winter polar circulation shows the greatest sensitivity, showing a continuous transition from a smooth polar winter jet at low resolution, to a distinct vertically "split" jet as resolution increases. The separation of the lower and middle atmosphere polar jet occurs at roughly 10. Pa, with the split jet structure developing in concert with the intensification of meridional jets at roughly 10. Pa and above 0.1. Pa. These meridional jets appear to represent the separation of lower and middle atmosphere mean overturning circulations (with the former being consistent with the usual concept of the "Hadley cell"). Further, the transition in polar jet structure is more sensitive to changes in zonal than meridional horizontal resolution, suggesting that representation of small-scale wave-mean flow interactions is more important than fine-scale representation of the meridional thermal gradient across the polar front. Increasing the horizontal resolution improves the match between the modeled thermal structure and the Mars Climate Sounder retrievals for northern winter high latitudes. While increased horizontal resolution also improves the simulation of the northern high latitudes at equinox, even the lowest model resolution considered here appears to do a good job for the southern winter and southern equinoctial pole (although in detail some discrepancies remain). These results suggest that studies of the northern winter jet (e.g., transient waves and cyclogenesis) will be more sensitive to global model resolution that those of the south (e.g., the confining dynamics of the southern polar vortex relevant to studies of argon transport). For surface winds, the major effect of increased horizontal resolution is in the superposition of circulations forced by local-scale topography upon the large-scale surface wind patterns. While passive predictions of dust lifting are generally insensitive to model horizontal resolution when no lifting threshold is considered, increasing the stress threshold produces significantly more lifting in higher resolution simulations with the generation of finer-scale, higher-stress winds due primarily to better-resolved topography. Considering the positive feedbacks expected for radiatively active dust lifting, we expect this bias to increase when such feedbacks are permitted. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Newman C.E.,Ashima Research | Lee C.,Ashima Research | Lian Y.,Ashima Research | Richardson M.I.,Ashima Research | Toigo A.D.,Johns Hopkins University
Icarus | Year: 2011

TitanWRF general circulation model simulations performed without sub-grid-scale horizontal diffusion of momentum produce roughly the observed amount of superrotation in Titan's stratosphere. We compare these results to Cassini-Huygens measurements of Titan's winds and temperatures, and predict temperature and winds at future seasons. We use angular momentum and transformed Eulerian mean diagnostics to show that equatorial superrotation is generated during episodic angular momentum 'transfer events' during model spin-up, and maintained by similar (yet shorter) events once the model has reached steady state. We then use wave and barotropic instability analysis to suggest that these transfer events are produced by barotropic waves, generated at low latitudes then propagating poleward through a critical layer, thus accelerating low latitudes while decelerating the mid-to-high latitude jet in the late fall through early spring hemisphere. Finally, we identify the dominant waves responsible for the transfers of angular momentum close to northern winter solstice during spin-up and at steady state. Problems with our simulations include peak latitudinal temperature gradients and zonal winds occurring ∼60. km lower than observed by Cassini CIRS, and no reduction in zonal wind speed around 80. km, as was observed by Huygens. While the latter may have been due to transient effects (e.g. gravity waves), the former suggests that our low (∼420. km) model top is adversely affecting the circulation near the jet peak, and/or that we require active haze transport in order to correctly model heating rates and thus the circulation. Future work will include running the model with a higher top, and including advection of a haze particle size distribution. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Lee C.,California Institute of Technology | Richardson M.I.,Ashima Research
Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets | Year: 2010

The response of three numerical model dynamical cores to Venus-like forcing and friction is described in this paper. Each dynamical core simulates a super-rotating atmospheric circulation with equatorial winds of 35 ± 10 m/s, maintained by horizontally propagating eddies leaving the equatorial region and inducing a momentum convergence there. We discuss the balance between the mean circulation and eddies with reference to the production of a super-rotating equatorial flow. The balance between the horizontal eddies and vertical eddies in the polar region is discussed and shown to produce an indirect overturning circulation above the jet. The indirect overturning may be related to the observed region of the polar dipole in the Venus atmosphere. Reservoirs of energy and momentum are calculated for each dynamical core and explicit sources and sinks are diagnosed from the general circulation model (GCM). The effect of a strong "sponge layer" damping to rest is compared with eddy damping and found to change significantly the momentum balance within the top "sponge layer" but does not significantly affect the super-rotation of the bulk of the atmosphere. The Lorenz (1955) energy cycle is calculated and the circulation is shown to be dominated by energy conversion between the mean potential energy and mean kinetic energy reservoirs, with barotropic energy conversion between the mean kinetic energy and eddy kinetic energy reservoirs. We suggest modifications to the GCM parameterizations on the basis of our analysis of the atmospheric circulation and discuss the effect of numerical parameterizations on the simulated atmosphere. Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.

Parmentier V.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Showman A.P.,University of Arizona | Lian Y.,Ashima Research
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2013

Context. Hot Jupiters exhibit atmospheric temperatures ranging from hundreds to thousands of Kelvin. Because of their large day-night temperature differences, condensable species that are stable in the gas phase on the dayside-such as TiO and silicates-may condense and gravitationally settle on the nightside. Atmospheric circulation may counterbalance this tendency to gravitationally settle. This three-dimensional (3D) mixing of condensable species has not previously been studied for hot Jupiters, yet it is crucial to assess the existence and distribution of TiO and silicates in the atmospheres of these planets. Aims. We investigate the strength of the nightside cold trap in hot Jupiters atmospheres by investigating the mechanisms and strength of the vertical mixing in these stably stratified atmospheres. We apply our model to the particular case of TiO to address the question of whether TiO can exist at low pressure in sufficient abundances to produce stratospheric thermal inversions despite the nightside cold trap. Methods. We modeled the 3D circulation of HD 209458b including passive (i.e. radiatively inactive) tracers that advect with the 3D flow, with a source and sink term on the nightside to represent their condensation into haze particles and their gravitational settling. Results. We show that global advection patterns produce strong vertical mixing that can keep condensable species aloft as long as they are trapped in particles of sizes of a few microns or less on the nightside. We show that vertical mixing results not from small-scale convection but from the large-scale circulation driven by the day-night heating contrast. Although this vertical mixing is not diffusive in any rigorous sense, a comparison of our results with idealized diffusion models allows a rough estimate of the effective vertical eddy diffusivities in these atmospheres. The parametrization K zz=5 × 104/Pbar m2s -1Kzz=5 × 104Pbarm2s-1, valid from ~1 bar to a few μbar, can be used in 1D models of HD 209458b. Moreover, our models exhibit strong spatial and temporal variability in the tracer concentration that could result in observable variations during either transit or secondary eclipse measurements. Finally, we apply our model to the case of TiO in HD 209458b and show that the day-night cold trap would deplete TiO if it condenses into particles bigger than a few microns on the planet's nightside, keeping it from creating the observed stratosphere of the planet. © 2013 ESO.

Lorenz R.D.,Johns Hopkins University | Newman C.,Ashima Research | Newman C.,California Institute of Technology | Lunine J.I.,University of Rome Tor Vergata
Icarus | Year: 2010

Motivated by radar and near-infrared data indicating that Titan's polar lakes are extremely smooth, we consider the conditions under which a lake surface will be ruffled by wind to form capillary waves. We evaluate laboratory data on wind generation and derive, without scaling for surface tension effects, a threshold for pure methane/ethane of ∼0.5-1. m/s. However, we compute the physical properties of predicted Titan lake compositions using the National Institute for Standards Technology (NIST) code and note that dissolved amounts of C3 and C4 compounds are likely to make Titan lakes much more viscous than pure ethane or methane, even without allowing for suspended particulates which would increase the viscosity further. Wind tunnel experiments show a strong dependence of capillary wave growth on liquid viscosity, and this effect may explain the apparent absence so far of waves, contrary to prior expectations that generation of gravity waves by wind should be easy on Titan. On the other hand, we note that winds over Titan lakes predicted with the TitanWRF Global Circulation Model indicate radar observations so far have in any case been when winds have been low (∼0.5-0.7. m/s), possibly below the wave generation threshold, while peak winds during summer may reach 1-2. m/s. Thus observations of Titan's northern lakes during the coming years by the Cassini Solstice mission offer the highest probability of observing wind-roughening of lake surfaces, while observations of Ontario Lacus in the south will likely continue to show it to be flat and smooth. © 2009.

Lorenz R.D.,JHU Applied Physics Laboratory | Tokano T.,University of Cologne | Newman C.E.,Ashima Research
Planetary and Space Science | Year: 2012

We use two independent General Circulation Models (GCMs) to estimate surface winds at Titan's Ligeia Mare (78° N, 250° W), motivated by a proposed mission to land a floating capsule in this ∼500 km hydrocarbon sea. The models agree on the overall magnitude (∼0.51 m/s) and seasonal variation (strongest in summer) of windspeeds, but details of seasonal and diurnal variation of windspeed and direction differ somewhat, with the role of surface exchanges being more significant than that of gravitational tides in the atmosphere. We also investigate the tidal dynamics in the sea using a numerical ocean dynamics model: assuming a rigid lithosphere, the tidal amplitude is up to ∼0.8 m. Tidal currents are overall proportional to the reciprocal of depth - with an assumed central depth of 300 m, the characteristic tidal currents are ∼1 cm/s, with notable motions being a slosh between Ligeia's eastern and western lobes, and a clockwise flow pattern. We find that a capsule will drift at approximately one tenth of the windspeed, unless measures are adopted to augment the drag areas above or below the waterline. Thus motion of a floating capsule is dominated by the wind, and is likely to be several km per Earth day, a rate that will be readily measured from Earth by radio navigation methods. In some instances, the wind vector rotates diurnally such that the drift trajectory is epicyclic. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Wang H.,Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory | Richardson M.I.,Ashima Research
Icarus | Year: 2013

Mars Daily Global Maps (MDGM) derived from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Mars Color Imager (MARCI) are used to study the distribution and evolution of large dust storms over the period from Mars years 24-30 (1999-2001). Large storms are defined here as discrete dust events visible in image sequences extending over at least 5 sols (Mars days) and where the dust covers areas beyond the origination region. A total of 65 large dust storms meeting these criteria are identified during the observational period and all are observed during the Ls = 135-30° seasonal window. Dust storms originating in the northern and southern hemispheres appear to form two distinct families. All but two of the storms originating in the northern hemisphere are observed in two seasonal windows at Ls = 180-240° and Ls = 305-350°; while all but two of those originating in the southern hemisphere are observed during Ls = 135-245°. None of the large dust storms originating in the northern hemisphere are observed to develop to global scale, but some of them develop into large regional storms with peak area >1 × 107 km2 and duration on the order of several weeks. In comparison, large dust storms originating in the southern hemisphere are typically much smaller, except notably in the two cases that expanded to global scale (the 2001 and 2007 global storms). Distinct locations of preferred storm origination emerge from the dust storm image sequences, including Acidalia, Utopia, Arcadia and Hellas. A route (trajectory) 'graph' for the observed sequences is provided. The routes are highly asymmetric between the two hemispheres. In the south, for non-global dust storms, the main routes are primarily oriented eastwest, whereas in the north, the routes are primarily north-south and zonally-concentrated into meridional channels. In a few impressive cases, storms originating in the northern hemisphere are observed to "flush" through Acidalia and Utopia, across the equator, and then branch in the low- and mid-southern latitudes. The origin of the 2007 global dust storm is ambiguous from the imaging data. Immediately prior to the global storm, a dust storm sequence from Chryse is identified. This storm's connection to the explosive expansion observed to start from Noachis/West Hellas is unclear due to image coverage. This paper further identifies and describes three different styles of dust storm development, which we refer to as "consecutive dust storms", "sequential activation" and "merging." The evolution of a given dust storm sequence can exhibit different combinations of these growth styles at different stages of development. Dust storm sequences can overlap in time, which makes them good candidate to grow into larger scale. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Mischna M.A.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Lee C.,Ashima Research | Richardson M.,Ashima Research
Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets | Year: 2012

We present details of an approach to creating a k-distribution radiative transfer model (KDM) for use in the Martian atmosphere. Such models preserve the accuracy of more rigorous line-by-line models, but are orders of magnitude faster, and can be effectively implemented in 3-D general circulation models. The approach taken here is sufficiently generalized that it can be employed for atmospheres of any arbitrary composition and mass, and demonstrations are provided for simulated atmospheres with a present-day Martian surface pressure (∼6 mb) and a putative thick early Mars atmosphere (∼500 mb), both with and without atmospheric water vapor. KDM-derived absorption coefficients are placed into a look-up table at a set of gridded points in pressure, temperature and atmospheric composition, and a tri-linear interpolation scheme is used to obtain the coefficients appropriate for the local atmospheric conditions. These coefficients may then be used within any of a variety of commonly used flux solvers to obtain atmospheric heating rates. A series of validation tests are performed with the KDM for both present-day and early Mars atmospheric conditions, and the model is compared against several other widely used radiative transfer schemes, including several used in contemporary general circulation models. These validation results identify weaknesses in some other approaches and demonstrate the efficacy of the KDM, providing a rigorous test of these types of models for use in the Martian atmosphere. A demonstration of results obtained by implementing the KDM in a Mars general circulation model is provided. © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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