Martian Gravity Waves Observed by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) During Northern Summer

J. Michael Battalio, Nicholas G. Heavens, Alexey Pankine, Corwin Wright, Aster Cowart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Martian gravity waves (GW) greatly impact the atmospheric circulation and formation of clouds, but many GW observations of the lower atmosphere are confined to specific orientations and wavelengths, leaving many gaps in the continuum of waves. To overcome the issue, we analyze eight Mars years of data during the season of Ls = 120°–150° from Band 10 (14.9 μm) of the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), sensitive to GWs at ∼25 km altitude. All horizontal orientations at wavelengths below ∼40 km are detectable, with the potential to detect north-south oriented GWs up to ∼1,000 km in length. Most THEMIS observations have brightness temperature variances compatible with GW disturbances. Intense GW activity concentrates poleward of 60°S, with normalized magnitudes up to 10−4 K2 K−2; activity decreases toward the equator and remains low throughout the northern hemisphere. The interannual intensity of GWs varies by latitude within three regimes of GW length: short (100 km). Gravity wave orientations that are detectable in all directions do not favor a single direction; that is, Martian GWs at 25 km altitude are isotropic. Finally, interannual variability seems to emerge from interactions with dust storms, orography, and planetary waves
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JE007653
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number3
Early online date17 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding for this work has been provided by NASA Grant 80NSSC19K1215. C. W. acknowledges support from Royal Society Research Fellowship URF\R\221023 and NERC Grant NE/S00985X/1.

Data Availability Statement
The gravity wave spectra are available at Zenodo (Battalio et al., 2022). The DaVinci software is available at the THEMIS website ( THEMIS data can be found on the Planetary Data System (Christensen, 2002)


  • Mars
  • Mars Odyssey
  • gravity waves
  • middle atmosphere
  • planetary atmospheres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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