Earth thermophysics is a branch of geophysics that uses the naturally occurring surface temperature as a function of the cyclical variation in solar radiation to charactertize planetary material properties.
Thermophysical properties are characteristics that control the diurnal, seasonal, or climatic surface and subsurface temperature variations (or thermal curves) of a material. The most important thermophysical property is thermal inertia, which controls the amplitude of the thermal curve and albedo (or reflectivity), which controls the average temperature.
This field of observations and computer modeling was first applied to Mars due to the ideal atmospheric pressure for characterizing granular materials based upon temperature [Wechsler and Glaser, 1965]. The Mariner 6, Mariner 7, and Mariner 9 spacecraft carried thermal infrared radiometers [Neugebauer, et al., 1971; Kieffer et al., 1973], and a global map of thermal inertia was produced from modeled surface temperatures [Kieffer, et al., 1977] collected by the Infrared Thermal Mapper Instruments (IRTM) on board the Viking 1 and 2 Orbiters.
The original thermophysical models were based upon the studies of lunar temperature variations by Wesselink  and Jaeger . Further development of the models for Mars included surface-atmosphere energy transfer [Leovy, 1966], atmospheric back-radiation [Neugebauer et al., 1971], surface emissivity variations [Kieffer et al., 1973], CO2 frost and blocky surfaces [Kieffer et al., 1977], variability of atmospheric back-radiation [Haberle and Jakosky, 1991], effects of a radiative-convective atmosphere [Hayashi et al., 1995], and single-point temperature observations [Jakosky et al., 2000; Mellon et al., 2000].
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Leovy, C., Note on the thermal properties of Mars., Icarus, 5, 1-6, 1966.
Haberle, R.M., and B.M. Jakosky, Atmospheric effects on the remote determination of thermal inertia on Mars. Icarus, 90, 187-204, 1991.
Hayashi, J.N., B.M. Jakosky, and R.M. Haberle, Atmospheric effects on the mapping of Martian thermal inertia and thermally derived albedo. J. Geophys. Res. Vol. 100, E3, 5277-5284, 1995.
Jakosky, B.M., M.T. Mellon, H.H. Kieffer, P.R. Christensen, E.S. Varnes, and S.W. Lee, The Thermal Inertia of Mars from the Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer. J. Geophys. Res., 105, 9643-9652, 2000.
Mellon, M.T, B.M. Jakosky, H.H. Kieffer, and P.R. Christensen, High Resolution Thermal Inertia Mapping from the Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer. Icarus, 148, 437-455, 2000.