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A photochemical model of the dust-loaded ionosphere of Mars

Abstract : The ionization of the lower Martian atmosphere and the presence of charged species are fundamental in the understanding of atmospheric electricity phenomena, such as electric discharges, large scale electric currents and Schumann resonances. The present photochemical model of the lower ionosphere of Mars (0–70 km) is developed to compute the concentration of the most abundant charged species (cluster-ions, electrons and charged aerosols) and electric conductivity, at the landing site and epoch of the ExoMars 2016 mission. The main sources of ionization are galactic cosmic rays (during daytime as well as nighttime) and photoionization of aerosols due to solar UV radiation during daytime. Ion and electron attachment to aerosols is another major source of aerosol charging. The steady state concentration of charged species is computed by solving their respective balance equations (also known as continuity equations), which include the source and sink terms of their photochemical reactions. Since the amount of suspended dust can vary considerably and it has an important effect on atmospheric properties, several dust scenarios, in addition to the day-night variations, are considered to characterize the variability of the concentration of charged species. It has been found that, during daytime, aerosols tend to become positively charged due to electron photoemission, and during nighttime, tend to charge negatively due to electron attachment. The most dominant day-night variability in ion and electron concentration occurs when the amount of suspended dust is the largest. The electric conductivity has been found to vary in the 10−13–10−7 S/m range, depending on the altitude, dust scenario and local time.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 4:34:27 PM
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Sandy Cardnell, Olivier Witasse, Gregorio J. Molina-Cuberos, Mary Michael, Sachchida Nand Tripathi, et al.. A photochemical model of the dust-loaded ionosphere of Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, Wiley-Blackwell, 2016, 121 (11), pp.2335-2348. ⟨10.1002/2016JE005077⟩. ⟨insu-01391207⟩



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