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Mars plasma system response to solar wind disturbances during solar minimum

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • B. Sánchez-cano
  • B. E. S. Hall
  • M. Lester
  • M. L. Mays
  • O. Witasse
  • R. Ambrosi
  • D. Andrews
  • M. Cartacci
  • A. Cicchetti
  • M. Holmström
  • S. M. Imber
  • P. Kajdič
  • S. E. Milan
  • R. Noschese
  • D. Odstrcil
  • H. Opgenoorth
  • J. Plaut
  • R. Ramstad
  • K. I. Reyes-ayala
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)6611-6634
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date7/06/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper is a phenomenological description of the ionospheric plasma and induced magnetospheric boundary (IMB) response to two different types of upstream solar wind events impacting Mars in March 2008, at the solar minimum. A total of 16 Mars Express orbits corresponding to five consecutive days is evaluated. Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory-B (STEREO-B) at 1 AU and Mars Express and Mars Odyssey at 1.644 AU detected the arrival of a small transient interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME-like) on the 6 and 7 of March, respectively. This is the first time that this kind of small solar structure is reported at Mars's distance. In both cases, it was followed by a large increase in solar wind velocity that lasted for ~10 days. This scenario is simulated with the Wang-Sheeley-Arge (WSA) - ENLIL + Cone solar solar wind model. At Mars, the ICME-like event caused a strong compression of the magnetosheath and ionosphere, and the recovery lasted for ~3 orbits (~20 h). After that, the fast stream affected the upper ionosphere and the IMB, which radial and tangential motions in regions close to the subsolar point are analyzed. Moreover, a compression in the Martian plasma system is also observed, although weaker than after the ICME-like impact, and several magnetosheath plasma blobs in the upper ionosphere are detected by Mars Express. We conclude that, during solar minimum and at aphelion, small solar wind structures can create larger perturbations than previously expected in the Martian system.