The Mars Ion and Neutral Particle Analyzer (MINPA) is one of the three scientific instruments onboard the Tianwen-1 orbiter to investigate the Martian space environment. During Tianwen-1’s transfer orbit to Mars, the MINPA was switched on to measure the solar wind ions. Here, we present the first results of the MINPA observations in the solar wind. During cruise, nearly half of the MINPA ion field-of-view (FOV) was blocked by the lander capsule; thus only the solar-wind ions with azimuthal speeds pointing towards the unblocked FOV sectors could be detected. We perform a detailed comparison of the MINPA’s solar wind observations with data from Earth-based missions when MINPA reached its count-rate peak, finding a general consistency of the ion moments between them. The blocking effect due to the lander is evaluated quantitatively under varying solar-wind velocity conditions. Despite the blocking effect, the MINPA’s solar wind measurements during the transfer orbit suggest a good performance.
The sun-grazing comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) showed a distorted, unconventional tail morphology near its perihelion (1.2Rs). Based on the “Solar Corona and Inner Heliosphere” modeling result of the magnetic field and plasma dynamics in the solar corona, we use the Runge-Kutta method to simulate the moving trajectory of charged dust and ion particles released at different positions from the C/2011 W3 orbit. We find that the dust particles near the sun, which are subject to a strong magnetic Lorentz force, travel differently from their counterparts distant from the sun, where the latter are mainly affected by the solar gravitational force and radiation pressure. According to the simulation results, we propose that the magnetic mirror effect can rebound the charged dust particles back away from the sun and be regarded as one crucial cause of the dust-free zone formation. We find that ions mainly move along magnetic field lines at an acute angle to the comet's direction of motion. The cometary ions' movement direction was determined by the comet's velocity and the coronal magnetic field, which are responsible for the C/2011 W3’s unique comet tail shape near perihelion. Additionally, the ion particles also experience perpendicular drift motion, mainly dominated by the electric field drift, which is similar to and can be used to approximate the solar wind's transverse velocity at its source region.