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.
The Martian hydrogen exosphere extends out of the bow shock, forming a "hydrogen corona". The solar wind interacts directly with the hydrogen corona. During an ICME event on 7 March 2015, the SWIA instrument onboard Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) observed that the pick-up H+ fluxes in upstream solar wind were enhanced. Also increased were the penetrating H+ fluxes in the Martian atmosphere. Quantitatively, these penetrating H+ fluxes cannot increase by a factor of 5 simply due to a factor of 3 increase in the solar wind density, suggesting that the increased abundance of exospheric hydrogen upstream of the bow shock was a consequence of the passage of the ICME. A denser outer hydrogen corona at high altitudes suggests that the expansion of the neutral atmosphere was caused by the ICME. The excited and heated hydrogen exosphere probably indicates an elevated hydrogen escape rate during an ICME.
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.