Hemispheric Asymmetry in the Mars Summer Ionosphere at Various Solar Forcing Conditions Journal Article uri icon



  • ; <p>The MAVEN satellite has now made two Martian-years of ionosphere-thermosphere (I-T) observations enabling limited studies of seasonal changes in the upper atmosphere. Before examining the ionospheric dynamics associated with space weather, we wish to understand the climatological conditions of the system.  For example, previous studies have revealed the morning electron temperature overshoot as well as a close dependence between electron temperatures and neutral densities in the equatorial regions. In this presentation, we will examine differences in the northern and southern dayside ionosphere during the summer season of each hemisphere. The differences between these two cases will be contrasted with the seasonal dependence at the equator. Differences between the equatorial and polar regions are expected due to (A) differences in neutral scale heights, (B) differences in the solar zenith angle, and (C) the equilibration of I-T coupling due to differences in solar illumination.</p><p>In this work, we present a statistical analysis of MAVEN measurements comparing the north and south summer I-T. We find that when controlling for neutral pressure and latitude, the north and south plasma densities and temperatures are nearly identical below the demagnetization altitude (higher neutral pressures). Above the demagnetization altitude (lower neutral pressures), the southern hemisphere electron densities are higher than those in the northern hemisphere by ~100%. A significantly lower electron temperature is also observed in the south at these lower pressures. Given that the difference in solar EUV (and corresponding neutral heating) is ~20% between the two summer seasons, we postulate that the significantly lower plasma densities (above the demagnetization altitude) in the northern summer are due in part to an increase in ionospheric loss. This loss may be associated with the acceleration of ionospheric particles by the draped magnetic fields at an altitude where ions are not demagnetized. Furthermore, the loss may be diminished in the southern hemisphere where crustal magnetic fields increase the standoff distance to the solar wind magnetic field.</p>;

publication date

  • March 23, 2020

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • May 28, 2021 4:13 AM

Full Author List

  • Pilinski M; Andersson L; Thiemann E

author count

  • 3

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