On the Origins of Mars' Exospheric Nonthermal Oxygen Component as Observed by MAVEN and Modeled by HELIOSARES

Abstract : The first measurements of the emission brightness of the oxygen atomic exosphere by Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission have clearly shown that it is composed of a thermal component produced by the extension of the upper atmosphere and of a non-thermal component. Modeling these measurements allows us to constrain the origins of the exospheric O and, as a consequence, to estimate Mars' present oxygen escape rate. We here propose an analysis of three periods of MAVEN observations based on a set of three coupled models: a hybrid magnetospheric model (LatHyS), an Exospheric General Model (EGM) and the Global Martian Circulation model of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD-GCM), which provide a description of Mars' environment from the surface up to the solar wind. The simulated magnetosphere by LatHyS is in good agreement with MAVEN Plasma and Field Package instruments data. The LMD-GCM modeled upper atmospheric profiles for the main neutral and ion species are compared to NGIMS/MAVEN data showing that the LMD-GCM can provide a satisfactory global view of Mars' upper atmosphere. Finally, we were able to reconstruct the expected emission brightness intensity from the oxygen exosphere using EGM. The good agreement with the averaged measured profiles by IUVS during these three periods suggests that Mars' exospheric non-thermal component can be fully explained by the reactions of dissociative recombination of the O2+ ion in Mars' ionosphere, limiting significantly our ability to extract information from MAVEN observations of the O exosphere on other non-thermal processes, such as sputtering.
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François Leblanc, Jean-Yves Chaufray, Ronan Modolo, Ludivine Leclercq, S. Curry, et al.. On the Origins of Mars' Exospheric Nonthermal Oxygen Component as Observed by MAVEN and Modeled by HELIOSARES. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, Wiley-Blackwell, 2017, 122 (12), pp.2401-2428. ⟨10.1002/2017JE005336⟩. ⟨insu-01634365⟩

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