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Conference Papers Year : 2017

Mars’ seasonal mesospheric transport seen through nitric oxide nightglow

Franck Montmessin
Franck Lefèvre


We analyze the ultraviolet nightglow in the atmosphere of Mars through nitric oxide (NO) δ and γ band emissions as observed by the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument onboard the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft when it is at apoapse and periapse.In the dayside thermosphere of Mars, solar extreme-ultraviolet radiation dissociates CO2 and N2 molecules. O(3P) and N(4S) atoms are carried from the dayside to the nightside by the day-night hemispheric transport process, where they descend through the nightside mesosphere and can radiatively recombine to form NO(C2Π). The excited molecules rapidly relax by emitting photons in the UV δ and γ bands. These emissions are indicators of the N and O atom fluxes from the dayside to Mars’ nightside and the descending circulation pattern from the nightside thermosphere to the mesosphere (e.g. Bertaux et al., 2005 ; Bougher et al., 1990 ; Cox et al., 2008 ; Gagné et al., 2013 ; Gérard et al., 2008 ; Stiepen et al., 2015, 2017).Observations of these emissions are gathered from a large dataset spanning different seasonal conditions.We present discussion on the variability in the brightness and altitude of the emission with season, geographical position (longitude), and local time, along with possible interpretation by local and global changes in the mesosphere dynamics. We show the possible impact of atmospheric waves forcing longitudinal variability and data-to-model comparisons indicating a wave-3 structure in Mars’ nightside mesosphere. Quantitative comparison with calculations of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique-Mars Global Climate Model (LMD-MGCM) suggests the model reproduces both the global trend of NO nightglow emission and its seasonal variation. However, it also indicates large discrepancies, with the emission up to a factor 50 times fainter in the model, suggesting that the predicted transport is too efficient toward the night winter pole in the thermosphere by ˜20° latitude to the north.These questions are now addressed through an extensive dataset of disk images, in complement to improved simulations of the LMD-MGCM and the Mars Global Ionosphere-Thermosphere Model (MGITM) models.
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Dates and versions

insu-01668678 , version 1 (20-12-2017)



Zachariah Milby, Arnaud Stiepen, Sonal Jain, Nicholas M. Schneider, Justin Deighan, et al.. Mars’ seasonal mesospheric transport seen through nitric oxide nightglow. 49th Annual Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting, Oct 2017, Provo, United States. ⟨insu-01668678⟩
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