Researchers at JPL and Arizona State University conducted a comparative study of three candidate algorithms for estimating components of the Martian atmosphere, using raw (uncalibrated) data collected by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS). THEMIS is an instrument onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft that acquires image data in five visible and nine infrared (IR) wavelength bands. The algorithms under study used data collected from eight of the nine IR bands to estimate the dust and water ice content of the atmosphere. Such an algorithm could be used in onboard data processing to trigger other algorithms that search for features of scientific interest and to reduce the volume of data transmitted to Earth.

The algorithms studied were based on regression models. In the study, the optical depths estimated by these algorithms were compared with optical depths estimated in ground-based processing using fully calibrated data from both THEMIS and the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES). TES is an instrument onboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft that also observes the planet at infrared wavelengths, but at a lower spatial resolution than THEMIS does. Of the algorithms studied, the one that performed best was based on a Gaussian Support Vector Machine regression model. The test results indicated that this algorithm, operating on the raw data, had error rates that were within the uncertainty associated with the estimates obtained by the ground-based analysis of the fully calibrated data. This level of fidelity demonstrates that these algorithms are sufficiently accurate for use in an onboard setting.

This work was done by Kiri Wagstaff, Rebecca Castaño, and Steve Chien of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Joshua Bandfield of the Arizona State University. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Information Sciences category.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-43590.

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Estimating Dust and Water Ice Content of the Martian Atmosphere From Themis Data (reference NPO-43590) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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