Photoelectrons are produced by solar Extreme Ultraviolet radiation and contribute significantly to the local ionization and heat balances in planetary upper atmospheres. When the effect of transport is negligible, the photoelectron energy distribution is controlled by a balance between local production and loss, a condition usually referred to as local energy degradation. In this study, we examine such a condition for photoelectrons near Mars, with the aid of a multi-instrument Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution data set gathered over the inbound portions of a representative dayside MAVEN orbit. Various photoelectron production and loss processes considered here include primary and secondary ionization, inelastic collisions with atmospheric neutrals associated with both excitation and ionization, as well as Coulomb collisions with ionospheric thermal electrons. Our calculations indicate that photoelectron production occurs mainly via primary ionization and degradation from higher energy states during inelastic collisions; photoelectron loss appears to occur almost exclusively via degradation towards lower energy states via inelastic collisions above 10 eV, but the effect of Coulomb collisions becomes important at lower energies. Over the energy range of 30–55 eV (chosen to reduce the influence of the uncertainty in spacecraft charging), we find that the condition of local energy degradation is very well satisfied for dayside photoelectrons from 160 to 250 km. No evidence of photoelectron transport is present over this energy range.
We perform a statistical analysis of data from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) project on the global distribution of protons in the Martian magnetosheath. Our results show that the proton number densities distribution has a south-north asymmetry. This south-north asymmetry is most likely caused by the south-north asymmetric distributions of the crustal magnetic fields at Mars. The strong crustal magnetic fields push the inner boundary of magnetosheath to a higher altitude in the southern hemisphere. Due to the outward movement of the inner boundary of the magnetosheath, a compressed magnetosheath forms, causing subsequent increases in proton number densities, thermal pressure, and total pressure. Eventually, a balance is reached between the increased total pressure inside the magnetosheath and the increased magnetic pressure inside the induced magnetosphere. Our statistical study suggests that the Martian crustal magnetic fields can strongly affect the distributions of proton number densities in the Martian magnetosheath.
Magnetosonic (MS) waves are believed to have the ability to affect the dynamics of ring current protons both inside and outside the plasmasphere. However, previous studies have focused primarily on the effect of high-frequency MS waves (f > 20 Hz) on ring current protons. In this study, we investigate interactions between ring current protons and low-frequency MS waves (< 20 Hz) inside the plasmasphere. We find that low-frequency MS waves can effectively accelerate < 20 keV ring current protons on time scales from several hours to a day, and their scattering efficiency is comparable to that due to high-frequency MS waves (>20 Hz), from which we infer that omitting the effect of low-frequency MS waves will considerably underestimate proton depletion at middle pitch angles and proton enhancement at large pitch angles. Therefore, ring current proton modeling should take into account the effects of both low- and high-frequency MS waves.