Mars Science Laboratory relative humidity observations: Initial results

A. M. Harri, M. Genzer, O. Kemppinen, J. Gomez-Elvira, R. Haberle, J. Polkko, H. Savijärvi, N. Rennõ, J. A. Rodriguez-Manfredi, W. Schmidt, M. Richardson, T. Siili, M. Paton, M. Dela Torre-Juarez, T. Mäkinen, C. Newman, S. Rafkin, M. Mischna, S. Merikallio, H. HaukkaJ. Martin-Torres, M. Komu, M. P. Zorzano, V. Peinado, L. Vazquez, R. Urqui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) made a successful landing at Gale crater early August 2012. MSL has an environmental instrument package called the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) as a part of its scientific payload. REMS comprises instrumentation for the observation of atmospheric pressure, temperature of the air, ground temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity (REMS-H), and UV measurements. We concentrate on describing the REMS-H measurement performance and initial observations during the first 100 MSL sols as well as constraining the REMS-H results by comparing them with earlier observations and modeling results. The REMS-H device is based on polymeric capacitive humidity sensors developed by Vaisala Inc., and it makes use of transducer electronics section placed in the vicinity of the three humidity sensor heads. The humidity device is mounted on the REMS boom providing ventilation with the ambient atmosphere through a filter protecting the device from airborne dust. The final relative humidity results appear to be convincing and are aligned with earlier indirect observations of the total atmospheric precipitable water content. The water mixing ratio in the atmospheric surface layer appears to vary between 30 and 75 ppm. When assuming uniform mixing, the precipitable water content of the atmosphere is ranging from a few to six precipitable micrometers. Key PointsAtmospheric water mixing ratio at Gale crater varies from 30 to 140 ppmMSL relative humidity observation provides good dataHighest detected relative humidity reading during first MSL 100 sols is RH75%

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2132-2147
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Gale
  • MSL
  • Mars
  • atmosphere
  • humidity
  • total water content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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