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ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: Qin, J. F., Zou, H., Ye, Y. G., Hao, Y. Q., Wang, J. S., and Nielsen, E. (2020). A method of estimating the Martian neutral atmospheric density at 130 km, and comparison of its results with Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey aerobraking observations based on the Mars Climate Database outputs. Earth Planet. Phys., 4(4), 408–419.

2020, 4(4): 408-419. doi: 10.26464/epp2020038


A method of estimating the Martian neutral atmospheric density at 130 km, and comparison of its results with Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey aerobraking observations based on the Mars Climate Database outputs


Institute of Space Physics and Applied Technology, School of Earth and Space Science, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China


National Center for Space Weather, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081, China


Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau 37191, Germany

Corresponding author: Hong Zou,

Received Date: 2020-02-11
Web Publishing Date: 2020-06-09

Profiles of the Martian dayside ionosphere can be used to derive the neutral atmospheric densities at 130 km, which can also be obtained from the Mars Climate Database (MCD) and spacecraft aerobraking observations. In this research, we explain the method used to calculate neutral densities at 130 km via ionosphere observations and three long-period 130-km neutral density data sets at northern high latitudes (latitudes > 60°) acquired through ionospheric data measured by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Radio Occultation Experiment. The calculated 130-km neutral density data, along with 130-km density data from the aerobraking observations of the MGS and Mars Odyssey (ODY) in the northern high latitudes, were compared with MCD outputs at the same latitude, longitude, altitude, solar latitude, and local time. The 130-km density data derived from both the ionospheric profiles and aerobraking observations were found to show seasonal variations similar to those in the MCD data. With a negative shift of about 2 × 1010 cm−3, the corrected 130-km neutral densities derived from MCD v4.3 were consistent with those obtained from the two different observations. This result means that (1) the method used to derive the 130-km neutral densities with ionospheric profiles was effective, (2) the MCD v4.3 data sets generally overestimated the 130-km neutral densities at high latitudes, and (3) the neutral density observations from the MGS Radio Science Experiment could be used to calibrate a new atmospheric model of Mars.

Key words: Martian upper atmosphere, Mars Climate Database v4.3, aerobraking observations, Mars global circulation

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A method of estimating the Martian neutral atmospheric density at 130 km, and comparison of its results with Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey aerobraking observations based on the Mars Climate Database outputs

JunFeng Qin, Hong Zou, YuGuang Ye, YongQiang Hao, JinSong Wang, Erling Nielsen