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Dawn/dusk asymmetry of the Martian UltraViolet terminator observed through suprathermal electron depletions

Abstract : Suprathermal electron depletions are structures of the nightside ionosphere of Mars resulting from an equilibrium between electron loss and creation processes. Photoionization of oxygen and carbon dioxide by UV and EUV photons is the main ionization process of the Martian atmosphere. The observation of suprathermal electron depletions is strongly unexpected in the portion of the Martian environment where photoionization can occur. This region is delimited by the UltraViolet (UV) terminator, behind which no UV ionizing photons are detected. In this study suprathermal electron depletions are used to determine the position of the UV terminator thanks to MAVEN observations. The MAVEN spacecraft is now in its fourth year of data recording and has already covered more than one Martian year, a large range of latitude, local time and solar zenith angle in the nightside down to 110 km altitude. This coverage enables us to determine the approximate position of the UV terminator over one Martian year. We then investigate the variation of its position on the dawn and dusk sides and depending on seasons. Our results are compared with models of the Martian atmosphere and in‐situ data of the atmospheric composition which all highlight an asymmetry between the dusk and the dawn sides at equinox. However, models show an inversion in the position of the dusk and the dawn UV terminator at perihelion and aphelion, which cannot yet be confirmed or disproved by the data.
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Contributor : Catherine Cardon Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, March 29, 2021 - 8:54:00 AM
Last modification on : Monday, July 4, 2022 - 8:49:38 AM
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Morgane Steckiewicz, P. Garnier, R. Lillis, D. Toublanc, François Leblanc, et al.. Dawn/dusk asymmetry of the Martian UltraViolet terminator observed through suprathermal electron depletions. Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics, American Geophysical Union/Wiley, 2019, 124 (8), pp.7283-7300. ⟨10.1029/2018JA026336⟩. ⟨insu-02189085⟩



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