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Comparison of high‐altitude production and ionospheric outflow contributions to O + loss at Mars

By Michael W. Liemohn, Shannon M. Curry, Xiaohua Fang and Yingjuan Ma


The Mars Test Particle model is used (with background parameters from a magnetohydrodynamic code) to simulate the transport of O + ions in the near‐Mars space environment to study the source processes responsible for ion escape. The MHD values at this altitude are used to inject an ionospheric outflow source of ions for the Mars Test Particle (MTP). The resulting loss distributions (in both real and velocity space) from this ionospheric source term are compared against those from high‐altitude ionization mechanisms, in particular photoionization, charge exchange, and electron impact ionization, each of which has its own source regions, albeit overlapping. For the nominal MHD settings, this ionospheric outflow source contributes only 10% to the total O + loss rate at solar maximum, predominantly via the central tail region. This percentage has very little dependence on the initial temperature, but a change in the initial ion density or bulk velocity directly alters this loss through the central tail. A density or bulk velocity increase of a factor of 10 makes the ionospheric outflow loss comparable in magnitude to the loss from the combined high‐altitude sources. The spatial and velocity space distributions of escaping O + are examined and compared for the various source terms to identify features specific to each ion source mechanism. For solar minimum conditions, the nominal MHD ionospheric outflow settings yield a 27% contribution to the total O + loss rate, i.e., roughly equal to any one of the three high‐altitude source terms with respect to escape. Key Points Ionospheric outflow and high‐altitude ionization portioning to Mars ion loss Nominal results at solar min and max show IO is smaller than high‐alt portion 10x increases in IO initialization density or velocity makes it comparabl

Publisher: Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1029/2001JA000090.
OAI identifier: oai:deepblue.lib.umich.edu:2027.42/99634

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