Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Reader in Planetary Science



m.galand Website




Huxley BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

124 results found


Journal article

Lavvas P, Yelle RV, Heays AN, Campbell L, Brunger MJ, Galand M, Vuitton Vet al., 2015, N-2 state population in Titan's atmosphere, Icarus, Vol: 260, Pages: 29-59, ISSN: 1090-2643

We present a detailed model for the vibrational population of all non pre-dissociating excited electronic states of N2, as well as for the ground and ionic states, in Titan’s atmosphere. Our model includes the detailed energy deposition calculations presented in the past (Lavvas, P. et al. [2011]. Icarus 213(1), 233–251) as well as the more recent developments in the high resolution N2 photo-absorption cross sections that allow us to calculate photo-excitation rates for different vibrational levels of singlet nitrogen states, and provide information for their pre-dissociation yields. In addition, we consider the effect of collisions and chemical reactions in the population of the different states. Our results demonstrate that above 600 km altitude, collisional processes are efficient only for a small sub-set of the excited states limited to the A and W(ν = 0) triplet states, and to a smaller degree to the a′ singlet state. In addition, we find that a significant population of vibrationally excited ground state N2 survives in Titan’s upper atmosphere. Our calculations demonstrate that this hot N2 population can improve the agreement between models and observations for the emission of the View the MathML source state that is significantly affected by resonant scattering. Moreover we discuss the potential implications of the vibrationally excited population on the ionospheric densities.

Journal article

Sagnieres LBM, Galand MIF, Cui J, Lavvas P, Vigren E, Vuitton V, Yelle R, Wellbrock A, Coates Aet al., 2015, Influence of local ionization on ionospheric densities in Titan’s upper atmosphere, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 120, Pages: 5899-5921, ISSN: 2169-9402

Titan has the most chemically complex ionosphere of the Solar System. The main sources of ions on the dayside are ionization by EUV solar radiation and on the nightside include ionization by precipitated electrons from Saturn's magnetosphere and transport of ions from the dayside, but many questions remain open. How well do models predict local ionization rates? How strongly do the ionization processes drive the ionospheric densities locally? To address these questions, we have carried out an analysis of ion densities from the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) from 16 close flybys of Titan's upper atmosphere. Using a simple chemical model applied to the INMS dataset, we have calculated the ion production rates and local ionization frequencies associated with primary ions inline image and inline image. We find that on the dayside the solar energy deposition model overestimates the INMS-derived inline image production rates by a factor of 2. On the nightside, however, the model driven by suprathermal electron intensities from the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) Electron Spectrometer (ELS) sometimes agrees, other times underestimates the INMS-derived inline image production rates by a factor of up to 2-3. We find that below 1200 km, all ion number densities correlate with the local ionization frequency, although the correlation is significantly stronger for short-lived ions than long-lived ions. Furthermore, we find that for a given N2 local ionization frequency inline image has higher densities on the day-side than on the nightside. We explain that this is due to inline image being more efficiently ionized by solar photons than by magnetospheric electrons for a given amount of N2 ionization.

Journal article

Cui J, Galand M, Yelle RV, Wei Y, Zhang S-Jet al., 2015, Day-to-night transport in the Martian ionosphere: Implications from total electron content measurements, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 120, Pages: 2333-2346, ISSN: 2169-9402

The nightside Martian ionosphere is thought to be contributed by day-to-night transport and electron precipitation, of which the former has not been well studied. In this work, we evaluate the role of day-to-night transport based on the total electron content (TEC) measurements made by the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding on board Mars Express. This is accomplished by an examination of the variation of nightside TEC in the time domain rather than the traditional solar zenith angle domain. Our analyses here, being constrained to the Northern Hemisphere where the effects of crustal magnetic fields can be neglected, reveal that day-to-night transport serves as the dominant source for the nightside Martian ionosphere from terminator crossing up to time in darkness of ≈5.3 × 103 s, beyond which it is surpassed by electron precipitation. The observations are compared with predictions from a simplified time-dependent ionosphere model. We conclude that the solid body rotation of Mars is insufficient to account for the observed depletion of nightside TEC but the data could be reasonably reproduced by a zonal electron flow velocity of ≈1.9 km s−1.

Journal article

Cui J, Galand M, Zhang SJ, Vigren E, Zou Het al., 2015, The electron thermal structure in the dayside Martian ionosphere implied by the MGS radio occultation data, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Vol: 120, Pages: 278-286, ISSN: 2169-9100

We propose a revised Chapman model for the ionosphere of Mars by allowing for vertical variation of electron temperature. An approximate energy balance between solar EUV heating and CO2 collisional cooling is applied in the dayside Martian ionosphere, analogous to the method recently proposed by Withers et al. (2014). The essence of the model is to separate the contributions of the neutral and electron thermal structures to the apparent width of the main ionospheric layer. Application of the model to the electron density profiles from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) radio occultation measurements reveals a clear trend of elevated electron temperature with increasing solar zenith angle (SZA). It also reveals that the characteristic length scale for the change of electron temperature with altitude decreases with increasing SZA. These observations may imply enhanced topside heat influx near the terminator, presumably an outcome of the solar wind interactions with the Martian upper atmosphere. Our analysis also reveals a tentative asymmetry in electron temperature between the northern and southern hemispheres, consistent with the scenario of elevated electron temperature within minimagnetospheres.

Journal article

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