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Photochemical escape of oxygen from Mars: first results from MAVEN in situ data

Abstract : Photochemical escape of atomic oxygen is thought to be one of the dominant channels for Martian atmospheric loss today and played a potentially major role in climate evolution. MAVEN is the first mission capable of measuring, in situ, the relevant quantities necessary to calculate photochemical escape fluxes. We utilize 18 months of data from three MAVEN instruments: LPW, NGIMS and STATIC. From these data we calculate altitude profiles of the production rate of hot oxygen atoms from the dissociative recombination (DR) of O2+ and the probability that such atoms will escape the Mars atmosphere. From this we determine escape fluxes for 815 periapsis passes. Derived average dayside hot O escape rates range from 1.2 to 5.5 x 1025 s-1 depending on season and EUV flux, consistent with several pre-MAVEN predictions and in broad agreement with estimates made with other MAVEN measurements. Hot O escape fluxes do not vary significantly with dayside solar zenith angle or crustal magnetic field strength, but depend on CO2 photoionization frequency with a power law whose exponent is 2.6 ± 0.6, an unexpectedly high value which may be partially due to seasonal and geographic sampling. From this dependence and historical EUV measurements over 70 years, we estimate a modern-era average escape rate of 4.3 x 1025 s-1. Extrapolating this dependence to early solar system EUV conditions gives total losses of 13, 49, 189, and 483 mb of oxygen over 1, 2, 3, and 3.5 Gyr respectively, with uncertainties significantly increasing with time in the past.
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Robert J. Lillis, Justin Deighan, Jane Fox, Stephen W. Bougher, Yuni Lee, et al.. Photochemical escape of oxygen from Mars: first results from MAVEN in situ data. Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics, American Geophysical Union/Wiley, 2017, 122 (3), pp.3815-3836. ⟨10.1002/2016JA023525⟩. ⟨insu-01474339⟩



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