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Day-side ionospheric conductivities at Mars
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala Division.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala Division.
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2010 (English)In: Planetary and Space Science, ISSN 0032-0633, E-ISSN 1873-5088, Vol. 58, no 10, 1139-1151 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present estimates of the day-side ionospheric conductivities at Mars based on magnetic field measurements by Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) at altitudes down to similar to 100 km during aerobraking orbits early in the mission. At Mars, the so-called ionospheric dynamo region, where plasma/neutral collisions permit electric currents perpendicular to the magnetic field, lies between 100 and 250 km altitude. We find that the ionosphere is highly conductive in this region, as expected, with peak Pedersen and Hall conductivities of 0.1-1.5 S/m depending on the solar illumination and induced magnetospheric conditions. Furthermore, we find a consistent double peak pattern in the altitude profile of the day-side Pedersen conductivity, similar to that on Titan found by Rosenqvist et al. (2009). A high altitude peak, located between 180 and 200 km, is equivalent to the terrestrial peak in the lower F-layer. A second and typically much stronger layer of Pedersen conductivity is observed between 120 and 130 km, which is below the Hall conductivity peak at about 130-140 km. In this altitude region, MGS finds a sharp decrease in induced magnetic field strength at the inner magnetospheric boundary, while the day-side electron density is known to remain high as far down as 100 km. We find that such Titan-like behaviour of the Pedersen conductivity is only observed under regions of strongly draped magnetospheric field-lines, and negligible crustal magnetic anomalies below the spacecraft. Above regions of strong crustal magnetic anomalies, the Pedersen conductivity profile becomes more Earth-like with one strong Pedersen peak above the Hall conductivity peak. Here, both conductivities are 1-2 orders of magnitude smaller than the above only weakly magnetised crustal regions, depending on the strength of the crustal anomaly field at ionospheric altitudes. This nature of the Pedersen conductivity together with the structured distribution of crustal anomalies all over the planet should give rise to strong conductivity gradients around such anomalies. Day-side ionospheric conductivities on Mars (in regions away from the crustal magnetic anomalies) and Titan seem to behave in a very similar manner when horizontally draped magnetic field-lines partially magnetise a sunlit ionosphere. Therefore, it appears that a similar double peak structure of strong Pedersen conductivity could be a more general feature of non-magnetised bodies with ionised upper atmospheres, and thus should be expected to occur also at other non-magnetised terrestrial planets like Venus or other planetary bodies within the host planet magnetospheres.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 58, no 10, 1139-1151 p.
Keyword [en]
Mars, Ionosphere, Conductivity, Induced magnetosphere, Electrodynamic coupling, Crustal magnetic anomalies
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-147272DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2010.04.004ISI: 000280784700002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-147272DiVA: diva2:400150
Available from: 2011-02-24 Created: 2011-02-24 Last updated: 2011-02-24Bibliographically approved

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