October 14, 2014

Hydrogen exosphere at Mars: Pickup protons and their acceleration at the bow shock

Dubinin E., Fraenz M., Woch J., Barabash S., Lundin R., Yamauchi M.
Geophysical Research Letters

Summary: A total of about of 400 orbits during the first year of the ASPERA-3 operation onboard the Mars Express spacecraft were analyzed to obtain a statistical pattern of the main plasma domains in the Martian space environment. The environment is controlled by the direct interaction between the solar wind and the planetary exosphere/ionosphere which results in the formation of the magnetospheric cavity. Ionospheric plasma was traced by the characteristic "spectral lines" of photoelectrons that make it possible to detect an ionospheric component even far from the planet. Plasma of solar wind and planetary origin was distinguished by the ion mass spectrometry. Several different regions, namely, boundary layer/mantle, plasma sheet, region with ionospheric photoelectrons, ray-like structures near the wake boundary were identified. Upstream parameters like solar wind ram pressure and the direction of the interplanetary electric field were inferred as proxy from the Mars Global Surveyor magnetic field data at a reference point of the magnetic pile up region in the northern dayside hemisphere. It is shown that morphology and dynamics of the main plasma domains and their boundaries are governed by these factors as well as by local crustal magnetizations which add complexity and variability to the plasma and magnetic field environment. © Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007.