Proton cyclotron waves (PCWs) can be generated by ion pickup of Martian exospheric particles in the solar wind. The solar wind ion pickup process is highly dependent on the “IMF cone angle” — the angle between the solar wind velocity and the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), which also plays an important role in the generation of PCWs. Using data from 2.15 Martian years of magnetic field measurements collected by the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, we have identified 3307 upstream PCW events. Their event number distribution decreases exponentially with their duration. A statistical investigation of the effects of IMF cone angle on the amplitudes and occurrence rates of PCWs reveals a slight tendency of PCWs’ amplitudes to decrease with increasing IMF cone angle. The relationship between the amplitude and IMF cone angle is weak, with a correlation coefficient r = –0.3. We also investigated the influence of IMF cone angle on the occurrence rate of PCWs and found that their occurrence rate is particularly high for intermediate IMF cone angles (~18°–42°) even though highly oblique IMF orientation occurs most frequently in the upstream region of the Martian bow shock. We also conclude that these variabilities are not artefacts of temporal coverage biases in MAVEN sampling. Our results demonstrate that whereas IMF cone angle strongly influences the occurrence of PCWs, IMF cone angle may also weakly modulate their amplitudes in the upstream region of Mars.
Foreshock ultralow frequency (ULF) waves constitute a significant physical phenomenon in the plasma environment of terrestrial planets. The occurrence of these waves, associated with backstreaming particles reflected and accelerated at the bow shock, implies specific conditions and properties of the shock and its foreshock. Using magnetic field and ion measurements from MAVEN, we report a clear event of ULF waves in the Martian foreshock. The interplanetary magnetic field connected to the Martian bow shock, forming a shock angle of ~51°. Indicating that this was a fast mode wave is the fact that ion density varied in phase with perturbations of the wave field. The peak frequency of the waves was about 0.040 Hz in the spacecraft frame, much lower than the local proton gyrofrequency (~0.088 Hz). The ULF waves had a propagation angle approximately 34° from ambient magnetic field and were accompanied by the whistler mode. The ULF waves displayed left-hand elliptical polarization with respect to the interplanetary magnetic field in the spacecraft frame. All these properties fit very well with foreshock waves excited by interactions between solar wind and backstreaming ions through right-hand beam instability.