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A Sporadic Third Layer in the Ionosphere of Mars

A Sporadic Third Layer in the Ionosphere of Mars

Publication date: 04 November 2005

Authors: Pätzold, M. et al.

Journal: Science
Volume: 310
Issue: 5749
Page: 837 - 839
Year: 2005

Copyright: Science Magazine

The daytime martian ionosphere has been observed as a two-layer structure with electron densities that peak at altitudes between about 110 and 130 kilometers. The Mars Express Orbiter Radio Science Experiment on the European Mars Express spacecraft observed, in 10 out of 120 electron density profiles, a third ionospheric layer at altitude ranges of 65 to 110 kilometers, where electron densities, on average, peaked at 0.8 x 1010 per cubic meter. Such a layer has been predicted to be permanent and continuous. Its origin has been attributed to ablation of meteors and charge exchange of magnesium and iron. Our observations imply that this layer is present sporadically and locally.

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