Low Energy Electrons in the Mars Plasma Environment
- Link, Richard
- May 23, 2001.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
- The ionosphere of Mars is rather poorly understood. The only direct measurements were performed by the Viking 1 and 2 landers in 1976, both of which carried a Retarding Potential Analyzer. The RPA was designed to measure ion properties during the descent, although electron fluxes were estimated from changes in the ion currents. Using these derived low-energy electron fluxes, Mantas and Hanson studied the photoelectron and the solar wind electron interactions with the atmosphere and ionosphere of Mars. Unanswered questions remain regarding the origin of the low-energy electron fluxes in the vicinity of the Mars plasma boundary. Crider, in an analysis of Mars Global Surveyor Magnetometer/Electron Reflectometer measurements, has attributed the formation of the magnetic pile-up boundary to electron impact ionization of exospheric neutral species by solar wind electrons. However, the role of photoelectrons escaping from the lower ionosphere was not determined. In the proposed work, we will examine the role of solar wind and ionospheric photoelectrons in producing ionization in the upper ionosphere of Mars. Low-energy (< 4 keV) electrons will be modeled using the two-stream electron transport code of Link. The code models both external (solar wind) and internal (photoelectron) sources of ionization, and accounts for Auger electron production. The code will be used to analyze Mars Global Surveyor measurements of solar wind and photoelectrons down to altitudes below 200 km in the Mars ionosphere, in order to determine the relative roles of solar wind and escaping photoelectrons in maintaining plasma densities in the region of the Mars plasma boundary.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20010055260.
- No Copyright.
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