SWEA also complements the Langmuir probe, which will measure electrons that are moving too slowly for SWEA to detect. It was found that atmospheric loss occurs in three different regions, down the tail of the planet where the solar wind flows behind Mars, above the Martian poles where a Polar Plume is formed, and from the very upper reaches of the atmosphere, a cloud of gas extending around the planet. Abstract The MAVEN Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA) is a symmetric hemispheric electrostatic analyzer with deﬂectors that is designed to measure the energy and angular dis-tributions of 3-4600-eV electrons in the Mars environment. MAVEN's principal investigator is based at CU/LASP. "The instrument will tell whether the spacecraft is measuring planetary plasma or solar wind plasma," Mitchell said, referring to the mixture of electrons and other charged particles. "It determines the environment, which is important for setting the stage for interpreting other measurements.". The leading theory, based on the finding of downhill flows containing hydrated salts, is that the salts, particularly perchlorates known to be present on Mars, keep sub-surface water from freezing even when conditions are extremely cold at around -70°C. MAVEN data shows that the solar wind strips away gas at a rate of 100 grams per second, only taking into account high-energy charged particles. Mars, once a warm, habitable place, began losing most of its atmosphere when it cooled down and lost the protection of its global magnetic field that shielded the planet against the charged particles flowing from the sun. The findings of ongoing atmospheric loss at Mars due to solar wind give scientists plenty of work to look into the past and extrapolate how this mechanism of gas loss evolved in the early stages of the Solar System when the sun was much more active and Mars had a much thicker atmosphere. Managed by the Mars Exploration Program and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Ultraviolet ‘Nightglow' of Mars Atmosphere, Ultraviolet ‘Nightglow' of Mars Atmosphere Over South Pole. Over the course of many orbits around the planet, SWEA and MAG can create a "road map" of how charged particles move in the Martian environment. Please check your email for instructions on resetting your password. Beyond the findings announced on Thursday, the MAVEN science team will attempt to use the models of current atmospheric loss and extrapolate them into the past to see how solar wind interaction acted on a thicker atmosphere. Penetrating Solar Wind Hydrogen Observed by MAVEN On virtually every orbit through the dayside atmosphere below altitudes of a few hundred kilometers, MAVEN observes a tenuous population of positively charged ions with the same velocity as the upstream solar wind. Physics, Comets and Mitchell said neutral particles in Mars' atmosphere can become ionized, or electrically charged, by three different mechanisms. Scientists with NASA's Mars orbiters have been waiting years for an event like the current Mars global dust storm. Researchers have created the first map of wind circulation in the upper atmosphere of a planet besides Earth, using data from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft that were collected during the last two years. Ionization can also occur when fast moving electrons - either solar wind electrons or newly liberated electrons from the photoionization process - collide with neutral molecules. “We’ve seen that the atmospheric erosion increases significantly during solar storms, so we think the loss rate was much higher billions of years ago when the sun was young and more active.”. To reduce this effect, Mitchell said SWEA will be positioned on the end of one of the spacecraft's booms, keeping it far enough away to minimize the effects of the spacecraft . Instrument lead David L. Mitchell of SSL said that SWEA would use the information on electrons to track how other charged particles, such as planetary oxygen ions, are escaping the planet's atmosphere. Objects, Solid Surface and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. This complex configuration of magnetic fields rotates with the planet once every 24.6 hours - a full Martian day - which makes studying the routes for charged particle escape as challenging as it is interesting. MAVEN will also provide insights in other possible loss mechanisms such as photochemical reactions in the upper atmosphere, thermal escape or sputtering processes. The Solar Wind Electron Analyzer or SWEA is one of the eight instruments aboard MAVEN that will try to solve the mystery of Mars' dwindling atmosphere, a process that has reduced the planet to a frozen desert. In addition, the solar wind has its own embedded magnetic field that wraps around the planet's ionosphere. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, Deep Space Network support, and Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations. Planets, Magnetospheric These collisions can transfer enough energy to eject an electron from the molecule. Unlike the north and south magnetic poles of Earth, Mitchell said Mars features many localized magnetic fields, as if there were many bar magnets scattered all over the planet. Finally, ionization can occur when a fast moving ion from the solar wind crashes into a neutral particle in the atmosphere, stealing one of its electrons in a process known as charge exchange. Geophysics, Geomagnetism MAVEN also had the opportunity of measuring changes in loss rate when Mars was hit by solar storms. Geophysics, Mathematical While Earth actively generates a global magnetic field within its core, Mars' magnetic field is dominated by magnetized rock in its crust. NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft has discovered “layers” and “rifts” in the electrically charged part of the upper atmosphere of Mars. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The electrically charged particles are subject to magnetic forces, causing them to follow magnetic field lines in a corkscrew-like pattern. and Petrology, Exploration Claire Saravia Gaining an electron causes the solar wind ion to become neutral as it speeds away, leaving the original atmospheric particle ionized in a process Mitchell described as a "hit and run.". Using electric fields to bend the paths of electrons onto its detectors, SWEA can differentiate between electrons found in the solar wind and those in the Martian ionosphere by identifying their different energies.
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