Oblique reflections in the Mars Express MARSIS data set: Stable density structures in the Martian ionosphere
2014 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, Vol. 119, no 5, 3944-3960 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) onboard the European Space Agency's Mars Express (MEX) spacecraft routinely detects evidence of localized plasma density structures in the Martian dayside ionosphere. Such structures, likely taking the form of spatially extended elevations in the plasma density at a given altitude, give rise to oblique reflections in the Active Ionospheric Sounder data. These structures are likely related to the highly varied Martian crustal magnetic field. In this study we use the polar orbit of MEX to investigate the repeatability of the ionospheric structures producing these anomalous reflections, examining data taken in sequences of multiple orbits which pass over the same regions of the Martian surface under similar solar illuminations, within intervals lasting tens of days. Presenting three such examples, or case studies, we show for the first time that these oblique reflections are often incredibly stable, indicating that the underlying ionospheric structures are reliably reformed in the same locations and with qualitatively similar parameters. The visibility, or lack thereof, of a given oblique reflection on a single orbit can generally be attributed to variations in the crustal field within the ionosphere along the spacecraft trajectory. We show that, within these examples, oblique reflections are generally detected whenever the spacecraft passes over regions of intense near-radial crustal magnetic fields (i.e., with a cusp-like configuration). The apparent stability of these structures is an important feature that must be accounted for in models of their origin.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 119, no 5, 3944-3960 p.
Mars, ionosphere, induced magnetosphere, topside, plasma density
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-228813DOI: 10.1002/2013JA019697ISI: 000337622100052OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-228813DiVA: diva2:735066