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Conference Papers Year : 2016

Model of the dust-loaded ionospheres of Mars and Titan


The ionization of lower atmospheres of celestial bodies and the presence of charged species are fundamental in the understanding of atmospheric electricity phenomena, such as electric discharges, large scale electric currents and Schumann resonances. On January 14, 2005, the Huygens Probe measured the electric conductivity of Titan's atmosphere from 140 km down to the surface. Micro-ARES, the electric field and conductivity sensor on board the ExoMars 2016 Schiaparelli lander, will conduct the very first measurement and characterization of Martian atmospheric electricity. The landing is scheduled for October 19, 2016 and the measurements will be performed over 2-4 sols.The present photochemical model is developed to compute the concentration of the most abundant charged species (cluster-ions, electrons and charged aerosols) and electric conductivity in the lower atmospheres of Mars (0-70 km) and Titan (0-145 km). For both cases, the main source of ionization is galactic cosmic rays. In addition, during daytime, photoionization of aerosols due to solar UV radiation is important at Mars. Ion and electron attachment to aerosols is another major source of aerosol charging, which can vary between -50 and +200 elementary charges for Mars and -55 and -25 for Titan. The steady state concentration of charged species is computed by solving the respective balance equations, which include the source and sink terms of the photochemical reactions. Since the amount of suspended dust in the Martian atmosphere can vary considerably and it has an important effect on the atmospheric properties, several dust scenarios, in addition to the day-night variations, are considered to characterize the variability of the concentration of charged species.The agreement between with the results of the model for Titan and the Huygens data suggests an improvement with respect to previous models. This gives confidence in the results of the model for Mars, which characterize the predicted electric environment in which Micro-ARES will operate, being essential to its data analysis and interpretation.
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insu-01391519 , version 1 (03-11-2016)



Olivier Witasse, Sandy Cardnell, Gregorio Molina-Cuberos, Mary Michael, Sachi Tripathi, et al.. Model of the dust-loaded ionospheres of Mars and Titan. DPS 48 / EPSC 11 (Division for Planetary Sciences and the European Planetary Science Congress), Oct 2016, Pasadena, United States. ⟨insu-01391519⟩
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