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MoMo: a new empirical model of the Mars ionospheric total electron content based on Mars Express MARSIS data

Abstract : Aims: Several scientific landers and rovers have reached the Martian surface since the 1970s. Communication between the asset (i.e., lander or rover) and Mars orbiters or Earth antennas uses radio signals in UHF to X-band frequencies passing through the Mars' ionosphere. It is consequently necessary to take into account electron density variation in the Mars' ionosphere to correct the refraction of the signal transmitted. Methods: We developed a new empirical model of the Mars' ionosphere called MoMo. It is based on the large database of Total Electron Content (TEC) derived from the subsurface mode of the Mars Express MARSIS radar. The model provides vertical TEC as a function of solar zenith angle, solar activity, solar longitude and location. For validation, the model is compared with Mars Express radio occultation data as well as with the numerical model IPIM (IRAP Plasmasphere-Ionosphere Model). Results: We discussed the output of the model in terms of climatology behaviour of the Mars' ionosphere. The output of MoMo is then uses to quantify the impact of the Martian ionosphere for radio-science experiments. From our results, the effect is of the order of 10 À3 mm s À1 in Doppler observables especially around sunrise and sunset. Consequently, this new model could be used to support the data analysis of any radio-science experiment and especially for present InSight RISE and futur ExoMars LARA instruments aiming at better understand the deep-interior of Mars.
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Nicolas Bergeot, Olivier Witasse, Sébastien Le Maistre, Pierre-Louis Blelly, Wlodek Kofman, et al.. MoMo: a new empirical model of the Mars ionospheric total electron content based on Mars Express MARSIS data. Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate, EDP sciences, 2019, 9, pp.A36. ⟨10.1051/swsc/2019035⟩. ⟨insu-02938684⟩

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