Electron Precipitation at Mars: Advancing Our Understanding with MAVEN
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Electrons from the solar wind enter the Martian upper atmosphere from space in a process known as electron precipitation. These electrons are confined to move along magnetic field lines and, when those field lines intersect the atmosphere, the electrons collide with atmospheric neutral particles, resulting in heating, dissociation, ionization and excitation of those neutrals. Electron precipitation is an important source of energy input to the Mars upper atmosphere, and is typically the dominant source on the nightside. Past observations from Mars Global Surveyor have characterized patterns of electron precipitation, but only at ~400 km and ~2 AM local time. The MAVEN mission and in particular the SWEA instrument, provides an opportunity to study the distribution of suprathermal electrons in near-Mars space, over a range of altitudes from 120-6000 km and at a range of local times. We will present preliminary observations of flux patterns of these electrons.