Mars' ionospheric interaction with comet C/2013 A1 Siding-Spring's coma at their closest approach as seen by Mars Express
journal contributionposted on 2020-03-25, 12:41 authored by Beatriz Sánchez-Cano, Mark Lester, Olivier G Witasse, David DeWitt Morgan, Hermann Opgenoorth, David J Andrews, Pierre-Louis Blelly, Stanley WH Cowley, Andrew J Kopf, Francois Leblanc, Jared Randolph Espley
On 19 October 2014, Mars experienced a close encounter with Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring. Using data from the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) on board Mars Express (MEX), we assess the interaction of the Martian ionosphere with the comet's coma and possibly magnetic tail during the orbit of their closest approach. The topside ionospheric electron density profile is evaluated from the altitude of the peak density of the ionosphere up to the MEX altitude. We find complex and rapid variability in the ionospheric profile along the MEX orbit, not seen even after the impact of a large coronal mass ejection. Before closest approach, large electron density reductions predominate, which could be caused either by comet water damping or comet magnetic field interactions. After closest approach, a substantial electron density rise predominates. Moreover, several extra topside layers are visible along the whole orbit at different altitudes, which could be related to different processes as we discuss.
B. S.‐C., M. L., and S. W. H. C. acknowledge support through STFC grant ST/S000429/1, and B. S.‐C also from the ESA‐ESTEC Faculty, and the ESA‐ESAC Faculty Funding reference 558. Authors are also grateful to the MARSIS‐PIs for making the data set available for the community, and to the ESA‐MEX team.
CitationSánchez–Cano, B., Lester, M., Witasse, O., Morgan, D. D., Opgenoorth, H., Andrews, D. J., et al. ( 2020). Mars' ionospheric interaction with comet C/2013 A1 siding spring's coma at their closest approach as seen by Mars Express. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 125, e2019JA027344. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JA027344
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