A Model of Callisto's Ionosphere

Friday, 19 December 2014
Oliver Andreas Hartkorn1, Joachim Saur1, Aljona Bloecker1, Darrell F Strobel2 and Sven Simon3, (1)University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany, (2)Johns Hopkins Univ, Baltimore, MD, United States, (3)Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States
We develop a model of the ionosphere of Jupiter's moon Callisto, where we assume a stationary balance between sources and sinks of electrons and electron energy. Hence, effects of electron transport and electron energy transport are neglected. At Callisto, the production of electrons and electron energy is basically driven by photoionization, which is implemented using the EUVAC model for solar activity. Dissociative recombination is the main electron loss process, whereas electron energy loss is further driven by dissociation, electron impact ionization as well as vibrational and rotational excitations of neutral atmospheric particles. All these effects are incorporated within our model by considering the associated cross sections. The neutral atmosphere is assumed to be stationary and consists of molecular oxygen with a column density of 3 to 4 x 1020 m-2 (e.g. Kliore et al. (2002), Liang et al. (2005)). Our results can be compared to radio occultation observations of four Galileo spacecraft flybys reported by Kliore et al. (2002), which shows that this simple model can explain the general pattern of the observational data. Indeed, our results indicate that the detection of enhanced electron densities is very sensitive to the exact position of the tangential point of the radio occultation method. Our model shows that photoionization produces a strong asymmetry of the electron density distribution between day and night-side of the moon. Further, model results for the electron energy allow for an estimation of the day glow of Callisto's atmosphere. This can be compared to HST observations (Strobel et al. (2002)) in order to evaluate the density of the neutral oxygen atmosphere. Future studies imply the modeling of the modification of the ionospheric structure through interaction with upstreaming jovian magnetospheric plasma.