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SPICAM observations and modeling of Mars aurorae

SPICAM observations and modeling of Mars aurorae

Publication date: 27 September 2015

Authors: Soret, L., et al.

Journal: Icarus
Year: 2015

Copyright: © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

In Press; published online 26 September 2015.

Martian aurorae have been detected with the SPICAM instrument on board Mars Express both in the nadir and the limb viewing modes. In this study, we focus on three limb observations to quantify both the altitudes and the intensities of the auroral emissions. The CO (a³Π - X1Σ) Cameron bands between 190 and 270 nm, the CO (A1Π - X1Σ+) Fourth Positive system (CO 4P) between 135 and 170 nm, the CO2+ (B²Σu+ - X²Πg) doublet at 289 nm, the OI at 297.2 nm and the 130.4 nm OI triplet emissions have been identified in the spectra and in the time variations of the signals. The intensities of these auroral emissions have been quantified and the altitude of the strongest emission of the CO Cameron bands has been estimated to be 137±27 km. The locations of these auroral events have also been determined and correspond to the statistical boundary of open-closed magnetic field lines, in cusp-like structures. The observed altitudes of the auroral emissions are reproduced by a Monte-Carlo model of electron transport in the Martian thermosphere for mono-energetic electrons between 60 and 200 eV. No correlation between electron fluxes measured in the upper thermosphere and nadir auroral intensity has been found. Here, we simulate auroral emissions observed both at the limb and at the nadir using electron energy spectra simultaneously measured with the ASPERA-3/ELS instrument. The simulated altitudes are in very good agreement with the observations. We find that predicted vertically integrated intensities for the various auroral emissions are overestimated, probably as a consequence of the inclination and curvature of the magnetic field line threading the aurora. However, the relative brightness of the CO and CO2+ emissions is in good agreement with the observations.

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