Oxygen ion energization at Mars: Comparison of MAVEN and Mars express observations to global hybrid simulation

R. Jarvinen, D. A. Brain, R. Modolo, A. Fedorov, M. Holmström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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We study oxygen ion energization in the Mars‐solar wind interaction by comparing particle and magnetic field observations on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) and Mars Express missions to a global hybrid simulation. We find that large‐scale structures of the Martian‐induced magnetosphere and plasma environment as well as the Mars heavy ion plume as seen by multispacecraft observations are reproduced by the model. Using the simulation, we estimate the dynamics of escaping oxygen ions by analyzing their distance and time of flight as a function of the gained kinetic energy along spacecraft trajectories. In the upstream region the heavy ion energization resembles single‐particle solar wind ion pickup acceleration as expected, while within the induced magnetosphere the energization displays other features including the heavy ion plume from the ionosphere. Oxygen ions take up to 80 s and travel the distance of 20,000 km after their emission from the ionosphere to the induced magnetosphere or photoionization from the neutral exosphere before they have reached energies of 10 keV in the plume along the analyzed spacecraft orbits. Lower oxygen ion energies of 100 eV are reached faster in 10–20 s over the distance of 100–200 km in the plume. Our finding suggests that oxygen ions are typically observed within the first half of their gyrophase if the spacecraft periapsis is on the hemisphere where the solar wind convection electric field points away from Mars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1678-1689
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of geophysical research: Space physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Mars
  • solar wind
  • ion escape
  • ion energization
  • plume
  • induced magnetosphere


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