Energisation of O+ and O+ 2 Ions at Mars: An Analysis of a 3-D Quasi-Neutral Hybrid Model Simulation
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We have studied the loss of O+ and O+ 2 ions at Mars with a numerical model. In our quasi-neutral hybrid model ions (H+, He++, O+, O+ 2) are treated as particles while electrons form a massless charge-neutralising fluid. The employed model version does not include the Martian magnetic field resulting from the crustal magnetic anomalies. In this study we focus the Martian nightside where the ASPERA instrument on the Phobos-2 spacecraft and recently the ASPERA-3 instruments on the Mars Express spacecraft have measured the proprieties of escaping atomic and molecular ions, in particular O+ and O+ 2 ions. We study the ion velocity distribution and how the escaping planetary ions are distributed in the tail. We also create similar types of energy-spectrograms from the simulation as were obtained from ASPERA-3 ion measurements. We found that the properties of the simulated escaping planetary ions have many qualitative and quantitative similarities with the observations made by ASPERA instruments. The general agreement with the observations suggest that acceleration of the planetary ions by the convective electric field associated with the flowing plasma is the key acceleration mechanism for the escaping ions observed at Mars.
KeywordsMars Mars-solar wind interaction Mars Express ASPERA-3 instrument ion escape
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