October 14, 2014

Predicted interplanetary shocks/particles at Mars compared with in-situ observations: An overview

McKenna-Lawlor and Susan
Planetary and Space Science, Volume 56, Issue 13, p. 1703-1712

Summary: The biological and technological consequences of long-duration, solar-related, energetic particle radiation for manned/unmanned spacecraft warrant that consideration be given to providing reliable space weather predictions for future space missions to planet Mars. An account is, herein, provided of how the HAFv.2 numerical model was applied to predict the arrivals of four, flare-related, shocks at Mars generated during a <20-day active period on the Sun in March 1989, and of the arrival of another composite shock produced in association with a 10-day period of solar activity in December 2006. These predictions are compared with in-situ measurements of shock signatures at Mars recorded, in the former case, by the solar-low-energy-detector (SLED) and by the low-energy-telescope (LET) aboard the Phobos-2 spacecraft and, in the latter case, in data recorded by the ASPERA-3/IMA instrument aboard Mars Express. The success of the predictions is discussed and the requirement for further validation of the modeling technique using a large statistical sample pointed out. In-situ measurements made aboard Mars Express by the ASPERA-3/IMA experiment during the rising phase of Solar Cycle 24 can provide data relevant to such validation. The successful application of a SOLar Particle ENgineering COde (SOLPENCO), that estimates solar energetic particle (SEP) fluxes and fluences at the Earth, to the case of an energetic particle event at Mars (6 March 1989) is discussed. Measurements of SEP events recorded by the Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) supplemented by Mars Express measurements can potentially allow the predictions of SOLPENCO to be further studied downstream using a large statistical sample. However, we are presently only at the beginning of our understanding of the complex Sun Earth Mars scenarios that give rise to shock/particle events in the close Martian environment.