Investigating the Martian Ionospheric Conductivity Using MAVEN Key Parameter Data
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Since the Viking orbiters and landers in 1976, the Martian atmospheric composition has scarcely been investigated. New data from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission, launched in 2013, allows for a thorough study of the electrically conductive nature of the Martian ionosphere. Determinations of the electrical conductivity will be made using in-situ atmospheric and ionospheric measurements, rather than scientific models for the first time. The objective of this project is to calculate the conductivity of the Martian atmosphere, whenever possible, throughout the trajectory of the MAVEN spacecraft. MAVEN instrumentation used includes the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) for neutral species density, the Suprathermal and Thermal Ion Compositions (STATIC) for ion composition, temperature and density, the Magnetometer (MAG) for the magnetic field strength and the Langmuir Probe and Waves (LPW) for electron temperature and density. MAVEN key parameter data are used for these calculations. We compare our results with previous, model-based estimates of the conductivity. These results will allow us to quantify the flow of atmospheric electric currents which can be analyzed further for a deeper understanding of the Martian ionospheric electrodynamics, bringing us closer to understanding the mystery of the loss of the Martian atmosphere.