Title

Characterizing Atmospheric Escape from Mars Today and Through Time, with MAVEN

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2015

Abstract

Two of the primary goals of the MAVEN mission are to determine how the rate of escape of Martian atmospheric gas to space at the current epoch depends upon solar influences and planetary parameters and to estimate the total mass of atmosphere lost to space over the history of the planet. Along with MAVEN’s suite of nine science instruments, a collection of complementary models of the neutral and plasma environments of Mars’ upper atmosphere and near-space environment are an indispensable part of the MAVEN toolkit, for three primary reasons. First, escaping neutrals will not be directly measured by MAVEN and so neutral escape rates must be derived, via models, from in situ measurements of plasma temperatures and neutral and plasma densities and by remote measurements of the extended exosphere. Second, although escaping ions will be directly measured, all MAVEN measurements are limited in spatial coverage, so global models are needed for intelligent interpolation over spherical surfaces to calculate global escape rates. Third, MAVEN measurements will lead to multidimensional parameterizations of global escape rates for a range of solar and planetary parameters, but further global models informed by MAVEN data will be required to extend these parameterizations to the more extreme conditions that likely prevailed in the early solar system, which is essential for determining total integrated atmospheric loss. We describe these modeling tools and the strategies for using them in concert with MAVEN measurements to greater constrain the history of atmospheric loss on Mars.

DOI

10.1007/s11214-015-0165-8