Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


UPWARDS Report Summary

Project ID: 633127
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - UPWARDS (Understanding Planet Mars With Advanced Remote-sensing Datasets and Synergistic Studies)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-02-29

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The goal of the UPWARDS project is to review and analyze data available from the European Mars Express (MEx) mission and from other Martian missions, using a novel combination of state-of-the-art retrieval tools and of geophysical and atmospheric models. The three highest level objectives of UPWARDS are: (1) to address a selection of major challenging open scientific problems in current Mars research, which include the subsurface-atmosphere exchanges of trace species, the global cycle of water (vapor and ice) on Mars, the dust storms and atmospheric aerosol distribution, the links between lower and upper atmosphere, and the strong day-night transitions in the chemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere; (2) to prepare a set of tools for exploitation of data from the ExoMars missions with emphasis on Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO); and (3) to deliver enhanced scientific context based on the retrievals and data assimilation, in preparation of future Mars missions with emphasis on the 2018 ExoMars Rover.

UPWARDS is devoted to a multi-disciplinary research of available but unexploited Mars data, from the interior and subsurface, to the upper atmosphere and escape to space. The name of the UPWARDS project refers to this unique combination of teams oriented to understanding the essential couplings within the Martian system. A distinct goal prior to ExoMars is to use all previous data and experience to improve tools and hence maximize its scientific return. State of the art retrieval techniques and data assimilation are powerful tools to supply reference databases, combine different types of observations and maximize the scientific return. The building of synergistic teams ahead of the ExoMars data exploitation is another merit of the project.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far


Several tools have been designed and developed by the diverse teams during this period, in agreement with the original plan of five innovative retrieval schemes.

Regarding the first, the synergistic retrieval of water vapor from SPICAM, OMEGA and PFS, a forward model for the absorption and emission in water vapor bands for the three instruments was developed. Also an inversion model has been matured so as to allow direct inference of dust-optical depth, water vapor total column and surface albedo out of the SPICAM-IR spectra. For the thermal infrared region (TIR band) accessible with the PFS-LW channel, a similar routine has been conceived allowing a vertically resolved determination of temperature in combination with water vapor retrieval and surface temperature.
Regarding the synergistic retrieval of CO from OMEGA and PFS, there were several UPWARDS internal meetings to design the scheme, and pre-retrieval work devoted to the selection of OMEGA and PFS spectra to be used, to their re-formating into HDF5, and to the preparation of the ASIMUT code to allow for different instruments and non-sequential datasets.

Regarding the third, the derivation of vertical profiles of water vapor from PFS and OMEGA limb observations, a radiative transfer with multiple scattering and for the limb geometry on Mars has been developed. It is based on two Monte Carlo-based codes (JACOSPAR and SCATRD) and has been tested with DISORT-based codes for nadir and limb geometries.

Regarding the inversion of daylight CO2 limb emissions in the upper atmosphere, under non-local thermodynamic equilibrium conditions, we started adapting tools used for Earth's upper atmosphere sounding to Mars conditions. This includes a generic model for non-LTE, which was compared to a specific non-LTE for Mars and Venus atmospheres with satisfactory results, and the line-by-line radiative transfer code KOPRA. Both are coupled between them and to a retrieval processor based on a constrained nonlinear least squares algorithm with Levenberg-Marquardt damping which was previously for the exploitation of MIPAS/Envisat observations. Synthetic retrievals were carried out, including a sensitivity study to evaluate uncertainty sources and error propagation, and a first application to one OMEGA vertical profile of radiances at 4.3 μm was performed. The CO2 abundance obtained was not realistic around the mesopause, with strong peaks which reveal possible deficiencies in the collisional scheme in the non-LTE model or in the relaxation rates used in the model.

And regarding the development of methods to perform trajectory and atmosphere reconstruction during Martian Entry Descent and Landing operations, these methods are based on forebody surface pressure measurements and a first atmospheric reconstruction for density, pressure and temperature has been applied to Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) flight data. It used a single pressure sensor representing stagnation pressure and assuming equilibrium flow, and the reconstruction covered altitudes 9.5 – 64 km, with good agreement (about 1%) with previous studies using multiple forebody sensors and 3-D non equilibrium Navier Stokes modeling. This investigation will continue improving the MSL reconstruction combining data from the IMU (inertial measurement unit) with pressure data using Kalman filtering methods.


The study of the subsurface reservoirs and of the transport of species has been very productive. Starting with the investigation of the heat flow, we made a map of the crustal heat flow in present day Mars. This was done by scaling the heat flow differences across the Martian surface from crustal and topographic differences in the planet, and taking into account the radioactive heat production provided by the crust and the lithosphere mantle. We have also started to study the long term thermal evolution of Mars by analyzing the mechanical and thermal structure of the litosphere, in particular in the Hellas region.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

After the 1st year of the project, the 1st milestone of the project can be considered as achieved, since all the tools of the Consortium are basically ready to be applied to data. During the 2nd year we maintain our expectations for larger impacts via dissemination of first results to specialists and the general public, and via outreach activities oriented to diverse societal groups and ages, all following the project's Strategic Plan for Dissemination, Exploitation and Outreach.

The dissemination to the general public in particular has fulfilled all our expectations during the first year, with the numerous and beautiful dissemination projects (described below), which reached broad audiences, including students at several levels, via media, and general and specialized newspapers. Among the tasks implemented we can mention (1) the logo and corporative identity, defined and agreed by all UPWARDS partners, (2) the project website (, with valuable information for the general public and the media about the project, the members and the institutions of the Consortium, the science that is being made related to Mars, the objectives to be achieved, etc. It also has an intranet were all internal documents and data exchange are share by the UPWARDS members. (3) press releases and live events, like the coverage of the launch of Exomars, (4) podcasts and radio talks, conferences, local TV appearances, etc.

Related information

Record Number: 186665 / Last updated on: 2016-07-14