October 14, 2014

Observations of the martian subsolar ENA jet oscillations

Grigoriev A., Futaana Y., Barabash S., Fedorov A.
Space Science Reviews

Summary: The Neutral Particle Detector (NPD) of the ASPERA-3 experiment (Analyser of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms) on board the Mars Express (MEX) spacecraft observed an intense flux of H ENAs (energetic neutral atoms) with average energy of about 1.5 keV emitted anisotropically from the subsolar region of Mars. The NPD detected the ENA jet near the bow shock at radial distances of about 1 R M from the Martian surface as the spacecraft moved outbound, while the NPD continuously pointed towards the subsolar region. The jet intensity shows oscillative behavior. These intensity variations occur on two clearly distinguishable time scales. The majority of the identified events have an average oscillation period of about 50 sec. The second group consists of events with long-scale variations with a time scale of approximately 300 sec. The fast oscillations of the first group exhibit a periodic structure and are detected in every orbit, while the slow variations of the second group are identified in 40% of orbits. The intensity of the fast oscillations have a peak-to-valley ratio about 20 to 30% of the peak intensity. One of the possible mechanisms to explain fast oscillations is the formation of the low frequency ion waves at the subsolar region of Mars. Slow variations may be explained by either temporal variations in the ENA generation source or by a specific structure of the ENA generation source, in which hair-like ENA subjets can be present. © Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007.