Variation of Mars’ Induced Magnetospheric Boundaries over the Last Solar Cycle
Monday, 14 December 2015: 17:36
2009 (Moscone West)
Since Mars lacks an intrinsic global magnetic field, the solar wind interacts directly with the Martian ionosphere and upper atmosphere. This interaction gives rise to an induced magnetosphere around the planet with distinct boundaries encapsulating, and separating plasma populations of differing origin. The European Space Agency Mars Express (MEX) mission has been in operation for a full solar cycle, affording us an extensive and unique dataset to study the response of the main Martian plasma boundaries to external and internal factors. From analysis of the electron flux measured by the Analyzer of Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms Electron Spectrometer (ASPERA-3 ELS) instrument on-board MEX, we present the initial results of identification of the bow shock and induced magnetospheric boundaries along with their variation in position over the last solar cycle. Compared to other bodies in the solar system that lack an intrinsic global magnetic field, the presence of crustal magnetic fields distributed across the Southern hemisphere of Mars further complicates and differentiates the Martian plasma system. The impact of the presence of these crustal magnetic fields on the location of boundaries is also studied.