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.
|Journal||Geophysical Research Letters|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|