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Journal Articles Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Year : 2024

An acoustic investigation of the near-surface turbulence on Mars

Franck Montmessin
Jorge Pla-Garcia
Fabian Seel
Manuel de la Torre Juarez


The Perseverance rover is carrying out an original acoustic experiment on Mars: the SuperCam microphone records the spherical acoustic waves generated by laser sparks at distances from 2 m to more than 8 m. These N-shaped acoustic waves scatter from the multiple local heterogeneities of the turbulent atmosphere. Therefore, large and random fluctuations of sound travel time and intensity develop as the waves cross the medium. The variances of the travel times and the scintillation index (normalized variance of the sound intensity) are studied within the mathematical formalism of the propagation of spherical acoustic waves through thermal turbulence to infer statistical properties of the Mars atmospheric temperature fluctuation field. The comparison with the theory is made by simplifying assumptions that do not include wind fluctuations and diffraction effects. Two Earth years (about one Martian year) of observations acquired during the maximum convective period (10:00–14:00 Mars local time) show a good agreement between the dataset and the formalism: the travel time variance diverges from the linear Chernov solution exactly where the density of occurrence of the first caustic reaches its maximum. Moreover, on average, waves travel faster than the mean speed of sound due to a fast path effect, which is also observed on Earth. To account for the distribution of turbulent eddies, several power spectra are tested and the best match to observation is obtained with a generalized von Karman spectrum with a shallower slope than the Kolmogorov cascade, /ðkÞ / ð1 þ k2L2Þ 4=3. It is associated with an outer scale of turbulence, L, of 11 cm at 2 m above the surface and a standard deviation of 6 K over 9 s for the temperature. These near-surface atmospheric properties are consistent with a weak to moderate wave scattering regime around noon with little saturation. Overall, this study presents an innovative and promising methodology to probe the near-surface atmospheric turbulence on Mars.
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insu-04413922 , version 1 (24-01-2024)




Baptiste Chide, Philippe Blanc-Benon, Tanguy Bertrand, Xavier Jacob, Jérémie Lasue, et al.. An acoustic investigation of the near-surface turbulence on Mars. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2024, 155, pp.420 - 435. ⟨10.1121/10.0024347⟩. ⟨insu-04413922⟩
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