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A clear view of the multifaceted dayside ionosphere of Mars

A clear view of the multifaceted dayside ionosphere of Mars

Publication date: 19 September 2012

Authors: Withers, P., et al.

Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 39
Page: L18202
Year: 2012

Copyright: American Geophysical Union

By examining electron density profiles from the Mars Express Radio Science Experiment MaRS, we show that the vertical structure of the dayside ionosphere of Mars is more variable and more complex than previously thought. The top of the ionosphere can be below 250 km (25% occurrence rate) or above 650 km (1%); the topside ionosphere can be well-described by a single scale height (10%) or two/three regions with distinct scale heights (25% or 10%), where those scale heights range between tens and hundreds of kilometers; the main layer of the ionosphere can have a sharply pointed (5%), flat-topped (6%), or wavy (8%) shape, in contrast to its usual Chapman-like shape; a broad increase in electron density is detected at 160-180 km (10%); a narrow increase in electron density is sometimes found in strongly-magnetized regions; and an additional layer is present between the M1 and M2 layers (3%).

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