The Magnetic Field Pile-up and Density Depletion in the Martian Magnetosheath: A Comparison with the Plasma Depletion Layer Upstream of the Earth's Magnetopause
Using magnetometer and electron observations from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and the Wind spacecraft we show that the region of magnetic field pile-up and density decrease located between the Martian ionosphere and bow shock exhibit strong similarities with the plasma depletion layer (PDL) observed upstream of the Earth's magnetopause in the absence of magnetic reconnection when the magnetopause is a solid obstacle in the solar wind. A PDL is formed upstream of the terrestrial magnetopause when the magnetic field piles up against the obstacle and particles in the pile-up region are squeezed away from the high magnetic pressure region along the field lines as the flux tubes convect toward the magnetopause. We here discuss the possibility that at least part of the region of magnetic field pile-up and density depletion upstream of Mars may be formed by the same physical processes which generate the PDL upstream of the Earth's magnetopause. More complete ion, electron, and neutral measurements are needed to conclusively determine the relative importance of the plasma depletion process versus exospheric processes.
KeywordsSolar Wind Field Line Magnetic Reconnection Flux Tube Magnetic Pressure
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