TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 64 (No. 2), pp. 149-156, 2012

Magnetized Mars: Spatial distribution of oxygen ions

Esa Kallio1 and Stas Barabash2

1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
2Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden

(Received February 4, 2011; Revised June 26, 2011; Accepted July 13, 2011; Online published March 8, 2012)

Abstract: We have studied the spatial distribution of oxygen ions near Mars assuming that the planet had a weak intrinsic magnetic field sometimes in the past. The study has been performed by using a global self-consistent numerical hybrid model HYB-Mars by simulating four magnetization cases when the strength of the dipole magnetic field on surface at the magnetic equator was 0 nT, 10 nT, 30 nT and 60 nT. In all cases the upstream solar wind conditions were assumed to be present day nominal values. Two different regions were found: (1) a closed magnetic field line region where the density of oxygen ions was high and the ion velocity small and (2) an open magnetic region near the magnetic poles where both the density and the velocity of planetary oxygen ions were high. The former region has similarities with Earth's plasmasphere and the latter with Earth's magnetic cusps. The size of the closed magnetic field region increases with increasing dipolar field. The oxygen ions originating from the ionosphere were found to escape easily along the magnetic field from the magnetic cusps but become trapped within the closed magnetic field line region. The model used does not include a self-consistent ionosphere but it is interesting to note that the total loss rate had a local maximum at a small non-zero value of the magnetic dipole field (10 nT).
Key words: Mars, solar wind, magnetospheres, magnetic field, evolution, numerical simulation.

Corresponding author E-mail: esa.kallio@fmi.fi

[Full text] (PDF 10.3 MB)