October 14, 2014

First ENA observations at Mars: Charge exchange ENAs produced in the magnetosheath

Gunell, H. et Al.
Icarus, 182,2,431-438

Summary: Measurements of energetic neutral atoms (ENA) generated in the magnetosheath at Mars are reported. These ENAs are the result of charge exchange collisions between solar wind protons and neutral oxygen and hydrogen in the exosphere of Mars. The peak of the observed ENA flux is 1.3 × 1011 m-2 sr-1 s-1. For the case studied here, i.e., the passage of Mars Express through the martian magnetosheath around 20:15 UT on 3 May 2004, the measurements agree with an analytical model of the ENA production at the planet. It is possible to find parameter values in the model such that the observed peak in the ENA count rate during the spacecraft passage through the magnetosheath is reproduced.