17 Aug 2023
 | 17 Aug 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Ionospheric density depletions around crustal fields at Mars and their connection to ion frictional heating

Hadi Madanian, Troy Hesse, Firdevs Duru, Marcin Pilinski, and Rudy Frahm

Abstract. Mars’ ionosphere is formed through ionization of the neutral atmosphere by solar irradiance, charge exchange, and electron impact. Observations by Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft have shown a highly dynamic ionospheric layer at Mars impacted by loss processes including ion escape, transport, and electron recombination. The crustal fields at Mars can also significantly modulate the ionosphere. We use MAVEN data to perform a statistical analysis of ionospheric density depletions around crustal fields. Events mostly occur when the crustal magnetic field are radial, outward, and with a mild preference towards east in the planetocentric coordinates. We show that events near crustal fields are typically accompanied by an increase in suprathermal electrons within the depletion, either throughout the event or as a short-lived electron beam. However, no correlation between the changes in the bulk electron densities and suprathermal electron density variations is observed. Our analysis indicates that the temperature of the major ionospheric species, O2+, increases during most of the density depletion events, which could indicate that some ionospheric density depletions around crustal fields are a result of ion frictional heating.

Hadi Madanian et al.

Status: open (until 07 Oct 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1799', Isabela de Oliveira, 15 Sep 2023 reply

Hadi Madanian et al.

Hadi Madanian et al.


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Short summary
This article investigates certain anomalies in the ionosphere of Mars known as density depletions. It uses in-situ measurements of plasma conditions taken by the MAVEN spacecraft around Mars. The statistical analysis of events shed light into the generation mechanism of these structures.