Liuzzi, G.; Villanueva, G.L.; Crismani, M.M.J.; Smith, M.D.; Mumma, M.J.; Daerden, F.; Aoki, S.; Vandaele, A.C.; Clancy, R.T.; Erwin, J.; Thomas, I.; Ristic, B.; Lopez-Moreno, J.-J.; Bellucci, G.; Patel, M.R.
Observations of water ice clouds and aerosols on Mars can provide important insights into the complexity of the water cycle. Recent observations have indicated an important link between dust activity and the water cycle, as intense dust activity can significantly raise the hygropause, and subsequently increase the escape of water after dissociation in the upper atmosphere. Here present observations from Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery/Trace Gas Orbiter that investigate the variation of water ice clouds in the perihelion season of Mars year 34 (April 2018–2019), their diurnal and seasonal behavior, and the vertical structure and microphysical properties of water ice and dust. These observations reveal the recurrent presence of a layer of mesospheric water ice clouds subsequent to the 2018 global dust storm. We show that this layer rose from 45 to 80 km in altitude on a time scale of days from heating in the lower atmosphere due to the storm. In addition, we demonstrate that there is a strong dawn‐dusk asymmetry in water ice abundance, related to nighttime nucleation and subsequent daytime sublimation. Water ice particle sizes are retrieved consistently and exhibit sharp vertical gradients (from 0.1 to 4.0 μm), as well as mesospheric differences between the global dust storm (<0.5 μm) and the 2019 regional dust storm (1.0 μm), which suggests differing water ice nucleation efficiencies. These results form the basis to advance our understanding of mesospheric water ice clouds on Mars, and further constrain the interactions between water ice and dust in the middle atmosphere.