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Locations of Atmospheric Photoelectron Energy Peaks Within the Mars Environment


By identifying peaks in the photoelectron spectrum produced by photoionization of CO2 in the Martian atmosphere, we have conducted a pilot study to determine the locations of these photoelectrons in the space around Mars. The significant result of this study is that these photoelectrons populate a region around Mars bounded externally by the magnetic pileup boundary, and internally by the lowest altitude of our measurements (∼250 km) on the dayside and by a cylinder of approximately the planetary radius on the nightside. It is particularly noteworthy that the photoelectrons on the nightside are observed from the terminator plane tailward to a distance of ∼3 R M, the Mars Express apoapsis. The presence of the atmospherically generated photoelectrons on the nightside of Mars may be explained by direct magnetic field line connection between the nightside observation locations and the Martian dayside ionosphere. Thus the characteristic photoelectron peaks may be used as tracers of magnetic field lines for the study of the magnetic field configuration and particle transport in the Martian environment.

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Correspondence to R. A. Frahm.

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Frahm, R.A., Sharber, J.R., Winningham, J.D. et al. Locations of Atmospheric Photoelectron Energy Peaks Within the Mars Environment. Space Sci Rev 126, 389–402 (2006).

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  • Mars
  • photoelectrons