October 14, 2014

The hydrogen exospheric density profile measured with ASPERA-3/NPD

Galli A., Wurz P., Lammer H., Lichtenegger H.I.M., Lundin R., Barabash S., Grigoriev A., Holmstrom M., Gunell H.
Space Science Reviews

Summary: We have evaluated the Lyman-α limb emission from the exospheric hydrogen of Mars measured by the neutral particle detector of the ASPERA-3 instrument on Mars Express in 2004 at low solar activity (solar activity index = 42, F10.7=100). We derive estimates for the hydrogen exobase density, n H = 1010 m-3, and for the apparent temperature, T > 600 K. We conclude that the limb emission measurement is dominated by a hydrogen component that is considerably hotter than the bulk temperature at the exobase. The derived values for the exosphere density and temperature are compared with similar measurements done by the Mariner space probes in the 1969. The values found with Mars Express and Mariner data are brought in a broader context of exosphere models including the possibility of having two hydrogen components in the Martian exosphere. The present observation of the Martian hydrogen exosphere is the first one at high altitudes during low solar activity, and shows that for low solar activity exospheric densities are not higher than for high solar activity. © Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007.