October 14, 2014

Comparison of plasma data from ASPERA-3/Mars-Express with a 3-D hybrid simulation

Bosswetter A., Simon S., Bagdonat T., Motschmann U., Franz M., Roussos E., Krupp N., Woch J., Schule J., Barabash S., Lundin R.
Annales Geophysicae

Summary: The ELS and IMA sensors of the ASPERA-3 experiment onboard of Mars-Express (MEX) can measure electron as well as ion moments. We compare these measurements for a specific orbit with the simulation results from a 3-D hybrid model. In the hybrid approximation the electrons are modeled as a massless charge-neutralizing fluid, whereas the ions are treated as individual particles. This approach allows gyroradius effects to be included in our model calculations of the Martian plasma environment because the gyroradii of the solar wind protons are in the range of several hundred kilometers and therefore comparable with the characteristic scales of the subsolar ionospheric interaction region. The position of both the bow shock and the Ion Composition Boundary (ICB) manifest in the MEX data as well as in the results from the hybrid simulation nearly at the same location. The characteristic features of these boundaries, i.e. an increase of proton density and temperature at the Bow Shock and a transition from solar wind to ionospheric particles at the ICB, are clearly identifiable in the data.