Event Title

The morphology of the topside ionosphere of Mars under different solar wind conditions: Results of a multiinstrument observing campaign by Mars Express in 2010

Location

Yosemite National Park

Start Date

2-13-2014 5:45 PM

End Date

2-13-2014 6:00 PM

Description

Since the internally-generated magnetic field of Mars is weak, strong coupling is expected between the solar wind, planetary magnetosphere, and planetary ionosphere. However, few previous observational studies of this coupling incorporated data that extended from the solar wind to deep into the ionosphere. Here we use solar wind, magnetosphere, and ionosphere data obtained by the Mars Express spacecraft during March/April 2010, when Earth and Mars were aligned on the same branch of the solar wind's Parker spiral, to investigate this coupling. We focus on three pairs of ionospheric electron density profiles measured by radio occultations, where the two profiles in each pair were obtained from the same location only a few days apart. We find that high dynamic pressures in the solar wind are associated with compression of the magnetosphere, heating of the magnetosheath, and reduction in the vertical extent of the ionosphere. Identifiable ionopauses, or large, abrupt decreases in plasma density at the top of the ionosphere, are also associated with strong solar wind.

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Feb 13th, 5:45 PM Feb 13th, 6:00 PM

The morphology of the topside ionosphere of Mars under different solar wind conditions: Results of a multiinstrument observing campaign by Mars Express in 2010

Yosemite National Park

Since the internally-generated magnetic field of Mars is weak, strong coupling is expected between the solar wind, planetary magnetosphere, and planetary ionosphere. However, few previous observational studies of this coupling incorporated data that extended from the solar wind to deep into the ionosphere. Here we use solar wind, magnetosphere, and ionosphere data obtained by the Mars Express spacecraft during March/April 2010, when Earth and Mars were aligned on the same branch of the solar wind's Parker spiral, to investigate this coupling. We focus on three pairs of ionospheric electron density profiles measured by radio occultations, where the two profiles in each pair were obtained from the same location only a few days apart. We find that high dynamic pressures in the solar wind are associated with compression of the magnetosphere, heating of the magnetosheath, and reduction in the vertical extent of the ionosphere. Identifiable ionopauses, or large, abrupt decreases in plasma density at the top of the ionosphere, are also associated with strong solar wind.