22-EPN3-041: Study of the Dust Lifting Phenomena and Electrification Processes in a Martian Analogue Site
January 23, 2024

22-EPN3-041: Study of the Dust Lifting Phenomena and Electrification Processes in a Martian Analogue Site

Visit by Gabriele Franzese (INAF-OACN, Italy) and Hezi Yizhaq (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel) to TA1.5 Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (Botswana).
Dates of visit: 24 July – 02 August 2023

We performed a field campaign in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, during the dry season, to study the local dust lifting events and test a space designed dust sensor. With these purposes, we deployed a fully equipped meteorological station with the addition of a camera system and of the MicroMED sensor, the Optical Particle Counter selected on board of the ExoMars programme to characterise in situ the martian airborne dust. Here we used the terrestrial version of MicroMED, fully representative of its Martian counterpart.

We spent one week between two sites, facing different soil and wind conditions and successfully achieving both aspects of the campaign. MicroMED was indeed able to automatically operate using a preloaded acquisition schedule during day and night, in a range going from clear to highly loaded dust conditions. The campaign has hence been truly representative of the martian expected scenario and the
data will be useful for further tuning the sensor and its functioning pipeline. Moreover, MicroMED acquisitions are precious also for studying the dust lifting events, in combination with all the other installed sensors. We were indeed able to monitor two days of intense dust devil activity, performing also an image survey of the events. The acquired data are promising, being under various aspects totally new to the literature. They can hence lead to highly improve our knowledge of the dust lifting phenomenon, regarding in particular the induced electric field

Read the full scientific report with kind permission by Gabriele Franzese.


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