A statistical study of proton precipitation onto the Martian upper atmosphere:Mars Express observations

Dieval, Catherine and Stenberg, Gabriella and Nilsson, Hans and Barabash, Stas (2013) A statistical study of proton precipitation onto the Martian upper atmosphere:Mars Express observations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 118 (5). pp. 1972-1983. ISSN 2169-9402

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Due to the small size of the Martian magnetic pile-up region, especially at the subsolar point, heated protons with high enough energy can penetrate the induced magnetosphere boundary without being backscattered, i.e., they precipitate. We present a statistical study of the downgoing ~ keV proton fluxes measured in the Martian ionosphere by the Analyzer of Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms experiment onboard the Mars Express spacecraft. We find that on the dayside, the events of proton penetration occur during 3% of the observation time; the precipitation is an intermittent phenomenon. The proton events carry on average ~0.2% of the incident solar wind flux. Therefore, the induced magnetosphere is an effective shield against the magnetosheath protons. The events are more frequent during fast solar wind conditions than during slow solar wind conditions. The sporadic proton penetration is thought to be caused by transient increases in the magnetosheath temperature. The precipitating flux is higher on the dayside than on the nightside, and its spatial deposition is controlled by the solar wind convective electric field. The largest crustal magnetic anomalies tend to decrease the proton precipitation in the southern hemisphere. The particle and energy fluxes vary in the range 10^4–10^6 cm^–2 s^–1 and 10^7–10^9 eVcm^–2 s^–1, respectively. The corresponding heating for the dayside atmosphere is on average negligible compared to the solar extreme ultraviolet heating, although the intermittent penetration may cause local ionization. The net precipitating proton particle flux input to the dayside ionosphere is estimated as 1.2 · 10^21 s^–1.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
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©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
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13 Nov 2015 14:54
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22 Nov 2022 02:29