Imperial College London


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117 results found

Mendillo M, Narvaez C, Vogt MF, Mayyasi M, Forbes J, Galand M, Thiemann E, Benna M, Eparvier F, Chamberlin P, Mahaffy P, Andersson Let al., 2017, Sources of ionospheric variability at Mars, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 122, Pages: 9670-9684, ISSN: 2169-9380

During the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission's deep-dip #2 campaign of 17–22 April 2015, spacecraft instruments observed all of the physical parameters needed to assess the photo-chemical-equilibrium (PCE) explanation for ionospheric variability at a fixed altitude (135 km) near the peak of the Martian ionosphere. MAVEN measurements of electron density, electron temperature, neutral CO2 density, and solar irradiance were collected during 28 orbits. When inserted into the PCE equation, the measurements of varying PCE drivers correlated with the observed electron density variations to within instrumental uncertainty levels. The dominant source of this positive correlation was the variability of CO2 densities associated with the longitudinal wave-2 component of nonmigrating tides in the Martian thermosphere.


Eriksson AI, Engelhardt IAD, Andre M, Bostrom R, Edberg NJT, Johansson FL, Odelstad E, Vigren E, Wahlund J-E, Henri P, Lebreton J-P, Miloch WJ, Paulsson JJP, Wedlund CS, Yang L, Karlsson T, Jarvinen R, Broiles T, Mandt K, Carr CM, Galand M, Nilsson H, Norberg Cet al., 2017, Cold and warm electrons at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol: 605, ISSN: 0004-6361

Context. Strong electron cooling on the neutral gas in cometary comae has been predicted for a long time, but actual measurements of low electron temperature are scarce.Aims. Our aim is to demonstrate the existence of cold electrons in the inner coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and show filamentation of this plasma.Methods. In situ measurements of plasma density, electron temperature and spacecraft potential were carried out by the Rosetta Langmuir probe instrument, LAP. We also performed analytical modelling of the expanding two-temperature electron gas.Results. LAP data acquired within a few hundred km from the nucleus are dominated by a warm component with electron temperature typically 5–10 eV at all heliocentric distances covered (1.25 to 3.83 AU). A cold component, with temperature no higher than about 0.1 eV, appears in the data as short (few to few tens of seconds) pulses of high probe current, indicating local enhancement of plasma density as well as a decrease in electron temperature. These pulses first appeared around 3 AU and were seen for longer periods close to perihelion. The general pattern of pulse appearance follows that of neutral gas and plasma density. We have not identified any periods with only cold electrons present. The electron flux to Rosetta was always dominated by higher energies, driving the spacecraft potential to order − 10 V.Conclusions. The warm (5–10 eV) electron population observed throughout the mission is interpreted as electrons retaining the energy they obtained when released in the ionisation process. The sometimes observed cold populations with electron temperatures below 0.1 eV verify collisional cooling in the coma. The cold electrons were only observed together with the warm population. The general appearance of the cold population appears to be consistent with a Haser-like model, implicitly supporting also the coupling of ions to the neutral gas. The expanding cold plasma is unstable, forming fil


Heritier KL, Altwegg K, Balsiger H, Berthelier J-J, Beth A, Bieler A, Biver N, Calmonte U, Combi MR, De Keyser J, Eriksson AI, Fiethe B, Fougere N, Fuselier SA, Galand M, Gasc S, Gombosi TI, Hansen KC, Hassig M, Kopp E, Odelstad E, Rubin M, Tzou C-Y, Vigren E, Vuitton Vet al., 2017, Ion composition at comet 67P near perihelion: Rosetta observations and model-based interpretation, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 469, Pages: S427-S442, ISSN: 0035-8711

We present the ion composition in the coma of comet 67P with newly detected ion species over the 28–37 u mass range, probed by Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA)/Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer (DFMS). In summer 2015, the nucleus reached its highest outgassing rate and ion-neutral reactions started to take place at low cometocentric distances. Minor neutrals can efficiently capture protons from the ion population, making the protonated version of these neutrals a major ion species. So far, onlyNH+4has been reported at comet 67P. However, there are additional neutral species with proton affinities higher than that of water (besides NH3) that have been detected in the coma of comet 67P: CH3OH, HCN, H2CO and H2S. Their protonated versions have all been detected. Statistics showing the number of detections with respect to the number of scans are presented. The effect of the negative spacecraft potential probed by the Rosetta Plasma Consortium/LAngmuir Probe on ion detection is assessed. An ionospheric model has been developed to assess the different ion density profiles and compare them to the ROSINA/DFMS measurements. It is also used to interpret the ROSINA/DFMS observations when different ion species have similar masses, and their respective densities are not high enough to disentangle them using the ROSINA/DFMS high-resolution mode. The different ion species that have been reported in the coma of 67P are summarized and compared with the ions detected at comet 1P/Halley during the Giotto mission.


Hajra R, Henri P, Vallières X, Galand MIF, Heritier K, Eriksson E, Odelstad Eet al., 2017, Impact of a cometary outburst on its ionosphere: Rosetta Plasma Consortium observations of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko outburst on 19 February 2016, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol: 607, ISSN: 1432-0746

We present a detailed study of the cometary ionospheric response to a cometary brightness out-burst using in-situ measurements for the first time. The comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) at a heliocentric distance of 2.4 AU from the Sun, exhibited an outburst at ∼1000 UT on 19February 2016, characterized by two orders of magnitude increase in the coma surface brightness.The Rosetta spacecraft monitored the plasma environment of 67P from a distance of 30 km, orbiting with a relative speed of 0.2 m s -1 The onset of the outburst was preceded by “pre-outburstdecreases” in neutral gas density at Rosetta, in local plasma density and in negative spacecraft potential at ∼0950 UT. In response to the outbust, the neutral density increased by a factor of ∼1.8, the local plasma density increased by a factor of ∼3, driving the spacecraft potential morenegative. The energetic (10s of eV) electrons exhibited decreases in the flux by factors of ∼2 to 9 depending on the energy of the electrons. The local magnetic field exhibited a slight increase (∼5 nT) in amplitude and an abrupt rotation (∼36.4) in response to the outburst. A weakening of 0–100 mHz magnetic field fluctuations was also noted during the outburst, suggesting alteration of the origin of the wave activity by the outburst. The plasma and magnetic field effects lasted forabout 4 h, from ∼1000 UT to 1400 UT. The plasma densities are compared with an ionospheric model. This shows that while photoionization is the main source of electrons, electron-impactionization and a reduction in the ion outflow velocity need to be accounted for in order to explain the plasma density enhancement near the outburst peak.


Nilsson H, Wieser GS, Behar E, Gunell H, Wieser M, Galand M, Wedlund CS, Alho M, Goetz C, Yamauchi M, Henri P, Odelstad E, Vigren Eet al., 2017, Erratum: Evolution of the ion environment of comet 67P during the Rosetta mission as seen by RPC-ICA, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 469, Pages: S804-S804, ISSN: 0035-8711


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