October 14, 2014

Suprathermal electron fluxes on the nightside of Mars: ASPERA-3 observations

Dubinin E., Fraenz M., Woch J., Winnigham J.D., Frahm R., Lundin R., Barabash S.
Planetary and Space Science, 56,6,846-851

Summary: Recently aurora-type UV emissions were discovered on the nightside of Mars [Bertaux, J.-L., Leblanc, F., Witasse, O., et al., 2005. Discovery of an aurora on Mars. Nature 439, doi:10.1038/nature03603]. It was suggested that these emissions are produced by suprathermal electrons with energies of tens of eV, rather than by the electrons with spectra peaked above 100 eV [Leblanc, F., Witasse, O., Winningham J., et al., 2006. Origin of the martian aurora observed by spectroscopy for investigation of characteristics of the atmosphere of Mars (SPICAM) onboard Mars Express. J. Geophys. Res. 111, A09313, doi:10.1029/2006JA011763]. In this paper we present observations of fluxes of suprathermal electrons (Ee ~ 30-100 eV) on the Martian nightside by the ASPERA-3 experiment onboard the Mars Express spacecraft. Narrow spikes of suprathermal electrons are often observed in energy-time spectrograms of electron fluxes at altitudes between 250 and 600 km. These spikes are spatially organized and form narrow strips in regions with strong upward or downward crustal magnetic field. The values of electron fluxes in such events generally could explain the observed auroral UV emissions although a question of their origin (transport from the dayside or local precipitation) remains open. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.