Electric and magnetic variations in the near-Mars environment

C. M. Fowler, L. Andersson, J. Halekas, J. R. Espley, C. Mazelle, E. R. Coughlin, R. E. Ergun, D. J. Andrews, J. E.P. Connerney, B. Jakosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


For the first time at Mars the statistical distribution of (1-D) electric field wave power in the magnetosphere is presented, along with the distribution of magnetic field wave power, as observed by the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN spacecraft from the first 14.5 months of the mission. Wave power in several different frequency bands was investigated, and the strongest wave powers were observed at the lowest frequencies. The presented statistical studies suggest that the full thermalization of ions within the magnetosheath does not appear to occur, as has been predicted by previous studies. Manual inspection of 140 periapsis passes on the dayside shows that Poynting fluxes (at 2–16 Hz) between ∼10−11 and 10−8 Wm−2 reach the upper ionosphere for all 140 cases. Wave power is not observed in the ionosphere for integrated electron densities greater than 1010.8 cm−2, corresponding to typical depths of 100–200 km. The observations presented support previous suggestions that energy from the Mars-solar wind interaction can propagate into the upper ionosphere and may provide an ionospheric heating source. Upstream of the shock, the orientation of the solar wind interplanetary magnetic field was shown to significantly affect the statistical distribution of wave power, based on whether the spacecraft was likely magnetically connected to the shock or not—something that is predicted but has not been quantitatively shown at Mars before. In flight performance and caveats of the Langmuir Probe and Waves electric field power spectra are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8536-8559
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Mars
  • electric
  • magnetic
  • power
  • wave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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