The precipitation of keV energetic oxygen ions at Mars and their effects during the comet Siding Spring approach

Guillaume Gronoff, Ali Rahmati, Cyril Simon Wedlund, Christopher J. Mertens, Thomas E Cravens, Esa Kallio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)
135 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Comet Siding Spring C/2013 A1 will pass Mars on 19 October 2014, entailing particle and dust precipitation in the Martian upper atmosphere and a potential dust hazard for orbiters. An estimate of the flux of energetic O+ ions picked up by the solar wind from the cometary coma is shown, with an increase of the O+ flux above 50 keV by 2 orders of magnitude. While the ionization of Mars’ upper atmosphere by precipitating O+ ions is expected to be negligible compared to solar EUV-XUV ionization, it is of the same order of magnitude at 110 km altitude during the cometary passage, leading to detectable increases in ionospheric densities. Cometary O+ pickup ion precipitation is expected to be the major nightside ionization source, creating a temporary ionosphere and a global airglow. These effects are dependent on the solar and cometary activities at the time of the encounter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4844-4850
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume41
Issue number14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • comet
  • Mars
  • O+
  • pickup

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