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Evaluating the Use of Seasonal Surface Displacements and Time-Variable Gravity to Constrain the Interior of Mars
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  • Nicholas L. Wagner,
  • Peter Benjamin James,
  • Anton Ermakov,
  • Michael Manuel Sori
Nicholas L. Wagner
Baylor University

Corresponding Author:nick_wagner2@baylor.edu

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Peter Benjamin James
Baylor University
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Anton Ermakov
University of California, Berkeley
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Michael Manuel Sori
Purdue University
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The mass transport of volatiles on Mars represents a seasonally changing load onto the lithosphere of the planet. Much like on Earth, as mass is redistributed across the planet, the surface responds in a complex manner becoming displaced downwards or upwards. The magnitude and extent of displacement depend on the properties of the load and mechanical properties of the planetary interior. Based on new estimates of the height variation of the seasonal polar cap (SPC) we predict local surface displacements of up to tens of millimeters with a strong degree 1 signal throughout the Martian year. The long-wavelength portion of the displacement is potentially observable, with a magnitude of a few millimeters, located away from the seasonal polar cap where we could realistically measure it with a landed or orbital mission. We also model the direct contribution of this process to observable time variable gravity where we find the odd zonal coefficients to be in line with previous measurements, although with a smaller magnitude. Future measurements of this displacement could be used to help elucidate the composition of the mantle and crust of Mars, using this process as a probe into the Martian interior. Furthermore, more refined measurements of time-variable gravity would be a powerful tool in constraining the pole-to-pole volatile cycle present on Mars.
15 Aug 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
17 Aug 2023Published in ESS Open Archive