Research Article

Early MAVEN Deep Dip campaign reveals thermosphere and ionosphere variability

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Science  06 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6261, aad0459
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad0459

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The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, during the second of its Deep Dip campaigns, made comprehensive measurements of martian thermosphere and ionosphere composition, structure, and variability at altitudes down to ~130 kilometers in the subsolar region. This altitude range contains the diffusively separated upper atmosphere just above the well-mixed atmosphere, the layer of peak extreme ultraviolet heating and primary reservoir for atmospheric escape. In situ measurements of the upper atmosphere reveal previously unmeasured populations of neutral and charged particles, the homopause altitude at approximately 130 kilometers, and an unexpected level of variability both on an orbit-to-orbit basis and within individual orbits. These observations help constrain volatile escape processes controlled by thermosphere and ionosphere structure and variability.

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