Global Mars-solar wind coupling and ion escape
Publication date: 04 August 2017
Authors: Ramstad, R., et al.
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research
Copyright: © 2018 American Geophysical Union
Loss of the early Martian atmosphere is often thought to have occurred due to an effective transfer of the solar wind energy through the Martian induced magnetic barrier to the ionosphere. We have quantified the coupling efficiency by comparing the power of the heavy ion outflow with the available power supplied by the upstream solar wind. Constraining upstream solar wind density nsw, velocity vsw, and EUV intensity IEUV/photoionizing flux FXUV in varying intervals reveals a decrease in coupling efficiency, k, with solar wind dynamic pressure as k ∝ pdyn-0.74±0.13 and with FXUV as k ∝ FXUV-2.28±0.30. Despite the decrease in coupling efficiency, higher FXUV enhances the cold ion outflow, increasing the total ion escape rate as Q(FXUV) = 1010(0.82 ± 0.05)FXUV. The discrepancy between coupling and escape suggests that ion escape from Mars is primarily production limited in the modern era, though decreased coupling may lead to an energy-limited solar wind interaction under early Sun conditions.Link to publication