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Numerical prediction of the effects of solar energetic particle precipitation on the Martian atmospheric chemical composition

Abstract : Solar energetic particles (SEPs) are high-energetic particles that consist mainly of electrons and protons with energies from a few tens of keV to GeV ejected associated with solar flares and coronal mass ejections. SEPs can precipitate into planetary atmospheres cause ionization, excitation and dissociation of atmospheric molecules, leading to changes in atmospheric chemical composition via chemical network [e.g. Solomon et al., 1981; Adams et al., 2021]. The effect of SEPs on ozone concentration in the Earth’s polar region has been intensively studied for the past decades. For instance, during the enormous solar flare that occurred in late October 2003, NOx and HOx concentrations were enhanced and ozone concentration was depleted by 40% at the polar lower mesosphere [e.g. Jackman et al., 2005]. Increased ionization and dissociation of atmospheric N2 and O2molecules led to the production of NOx and HOx, which catalytically destroyed ozone at the polar mesosphere. Recently, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft has discovered global diffuse aurora on the nightside of Mars down to few tens km in altitude during SEP events, indicating that a significant amount of energy could be deposited in the atmosphere deeper than previously thought [Schneider et al., 2015; Nakamura et al., 2022]. However, the effects of SEPs on the atmospheric chemistry of present-day Mars have not yet been investigated by observations and/or models. By coupling a Monte Carlo model PTRIP (Nakamura et al., 2022) and a newly developed photochemical model to investigate the effects of SEPs on the atmospheric compositions at Mars, we performed a simulation to track the effects of a large SEP event on the Martian atmospheric composition. We found that HOx increased by a factor of 10 and ozone decreased by a factor of 10 in the altitude range from 20 km to 60 km. This is the very first estimation of the effects of SEPs on the atmospheric neutral compositions at Mars, indicating that similar effects on HOx and ozone could be expected on Mars than on Earth.
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Submitted on : Monday, April 25, 2022 - 8:21:19 PM
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Yuki Nakamura, Naoki Terada, François Leblanc, Hiromu Nakagawa, Shotaro Sakai, et al.. Numerical prediction of the effects of solar energetic particle precipitation on the Martian atmospheric chemical composition. EGU General Assembly 2022, May 2022, Online, Austria. ⟨10.5194/egusphere-egu22-2181⟩. ⟨insu-03651650⟩



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