The Venusian dayside ionosphere, similar to other planetary ionospheres, is produced primarily by ionization of its neutral upper atmosphere due to solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation. It has become clear that the expansion of the ionosphere may be strongly controlled by the EUV level, as exhibited in data collected by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter (PVO) during one solar cycle (1978–1992). However, the EUV-dependence of the Venusian dayside ionopause altitude, which defines the outer boundary of the ionosphere, remains obscure because the PVO crossed the dayside ionopause only during the solar maximum; its periapsis lifted too high during the solar minimum. Recently, during the period 2006–2014, which included the longest and quietest solar minimum of the past several decades, Venus Express (VEX) provided measurements of the photoelectron boundary (PEB) over the northern high-latitude region. Since the photoelectron boundary is closely related to the ionopause, we have an opportunity to analyze the EUV effect on the dayside ionopause by combining PVO and VEX observations. We have evaluated and then reduced the orbit bias effect in data from both PVO and VEX, and then used the results to derive a relationship between solar EUV level and the dayside ionopause altitude. We find that the dayside ionopause altitude increases as the solar EUV level increases, which is consistent with theoretical expectations.
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.
Meteoroids entering the Earth's atmosphere can create meteor trail irregularity seriously disturbing the background ionosphere. Although numerous observations of meteor trail irregularities were performed with VHF/UHF coherent scatter radars in the past, no simultaneous radar and optical instruments were employed to investigate the characteristics of meteor trail irregularity and its corresponding meteoroid. By installing multiple video cameras near the Sanya VHF radar site, an observational campaign was conducted during the period from November 2016 to February 2017. A total of 242 optical meteors with simultaneous non-specular echoes backscattered from the plasma irregularities generated in the corresponding meteor trails were identified. A good agreement between the angular positions of non-specular echoes derived from the Sanya radar interferometer and those of optical meteors was found, validating that the radar system phase offsets have been properly calibrated. The results also verify the interferometry capability of Sanya radar for meteor trail irregularity observation. The non-specular echoes with simultaneous optical meteors were detected at magnetic aspect angles greater than ~78°. Based on the meteor visual magnitude estimated from the optical data, it was found that the radar non-specular echoes corresponding to brighter meteors survived for longer duration. This could provide observational evidence for the significance of meteoroid mass on the duration of meteor trail irregularity. On the other hand, the simultaneous radar and video common-volume observations showed that there were some cases with optical meteors but without radar non-specular echoes. One possibility could be that some of the optical meteors appeared at extremely low altitudes where meteor trail irregularities rarely occur.
One of the important effects of the ionospheric modification by high-power waves is the airglow enhancement. Both the thermal electrons and the dissociation recombination contribute to generate the airglow emissions during HF heating. However, the relative importance of the airglow emission induced by dissociative recombination and thermal electrons has been rarely investigated. In this study, we carry out a simulation study on the airglow produced by high-power HF heating at nighttime associated with dissociative recombination and thermal electrons. SAMI2 (Sami2 is Another Model of the Ionosphere) is employed to simulate the ionospheric variations during the HF heating. The main conclusions from this study are as follows: (1) For the airglow induced by dissociative recombination, both 630.0 nm and 557.7 nm emissions show a decrease at the heating wave reflection height during the heating period, while when the heating is turned off, an increase is shown at lower altitudes. The reduction of airglow during the heating is caused by the rapid increase of electron temperature and the diffusion of plasmas dominates the after-heating airglow enhancement. (2) 630.0 nm emission due to thermal electrons is greatly enhanced at the wave reflection height, indicating that thermal electrons play a major role in exciting 630.0 nm emission. For the 557.7 nm emission, the excitation threshold (4.17 eV) is too high for thermal electrons. (3) The combined effect of dissociative recombination and thermal electrons could be the possible reason for the observed X-mode (extraordinary mode) suppression of 630.0 nm airglow during O-mode (ordinary mode) enhancement.
After the release of the previous report to the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) on progress achieved by Chinese scientists in ionospheric researches (Liu LB and Wan WX, 2016), in the recent two years (2016–2017) many interesting new investigations into various ionospheric related issues have been completed. In this report, about 100 publications are summarized. The topics highlighted are as follows: Ionospheric space weather, ionospheric dynamics, ionospheric climatology and modelling, ionospheric irregularity and scintillation, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) related ionospheric issues and other techniques, and radio wave propagation in the ionosphere. An outstanding feature is that more and more observations from the Meridional Project supported the ionospheric investigations.
The planet Earth is an integrated system, in which its multi-spheres are coupled, from the space to the inner core. Whether the space environment in short to long terms has been controlled by the earth’s interior process is contentious. In the past several decades, space weather and space climate have been extensively studied based on either observation data measured directly by man-made instruments or ancient data inferred indirectly from some historical medium of past thousands of years. The acquired knowledge greatly helps us to understand the dynamic processes in the space environment of modern Earth, which has a strong magnetic dipole and an oxygen-rich atmosphere. However, no data is available for ancient space weather and climate (>5 ka). Here, we propose to take the advantage of " space-diversity” to build a " generalized planetary space family”, to reconcile the ancient space environment evolution of planet Earth from modern observations of other planets in our solar system. Such a method could also in turn give us a valuable insight into other planets’ evolution.
Electron density is a key parameter to characterize Martian ionospheric structure and dynamics. Based on the ephemeris and auxiliary information derived from the Spacecraft, Planet, Instruments, C-matrix, and Events (SPICE) toolkit, we calculated the bending angle of signal path from the frequency residuals measured by the Mars Express Radio Science Experiment (MaRS) of the Mars Express (MEX) mission under the assumption of a spherically symmetric ionosphere. We stratified the ionosphere into layers and assumed a linear change of bending angle between layers, to derive profiles in radial distance of refractivity with the optimized parameters of upper integral limit of 4890 km and baseline correction boundary of 3690 km. Meanwhile, we also compared the retrieved electron density profiles between the frequency residuals of the single-frequency and differential Doppler of the dual-frequency. In total, ~640 electron density profiles of Martian ionosphere between April 2004 and April 2015 were retrieved successfully. There are 24 profiles identified manually that exhibit an additional sporadic layer occurrence below the normal two-layers. We also found that the peak altitude of this layer increases with the main peak altitude.
Since the release of the 2018 National Report of China on ionospheric research ( Liu LB and Wan WX, 2018) to the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), scientists from Mainland China have made many new fruitful investigations of various ionospheric-related issues. In this update report, we briefly introduce more than 130 recent reports (2018–2019). The current report covers the following topics: ionospheric space weather, ionospheric structures and climatology, ionospheric dynamics and couplings, ionospheric irregularity and scintillation, modeling and data assimilation, and radio wave propagation in the ionosphere and sounding techniques.
Through respectively adding June tide and December tide at the low boundary of the GCITEM-IGGCAS model (Global Coupled Ionosphere–Thermosphere–Electrodynamics Model, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences), we simulate the influence of atmospheric tide on the annual anomalies of the zonal mean state of the ionospheric electron density, and report that the tidal influence varies with latitude, altitude, and solar activity level. Compared with the density driven by the December tide, the June tide mainly increases lower ionospheric electron densities (below roughly the height of 200 km), and decreases electron densities in the higher ionosphere (above the height of 200 km). In the low-latitude ionosphere, tides affect the equatorial ionization anomaly structure (EIA) in the relative difference of electron density, which suggests that tides affect the equatorial vertical E×B plasma drifts. Although the tide-driven annual anomalies do not vary significantly with the solar flux level in the lower ionosphere, in the higher ionosphere the annual anomalies generally decrease with solar activity.