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Three-dimensional Martian Ionosphere model: I. The photochemical ionosphere below 180 km

Abstract : We describe the Mars ionosphere with unprecedented detail in 3D, as simulated by a Mars General Circulation Model (the LMD-Mars GCM) and compare it with recent measurements. The model includes a number of recent extensions and improvements. Different simulations for a full Martian year have been performed. The electron density at the main ionospheric peak is shown to vary with the Sun-Mars distance and with the solar variability, both in the long term (11-year solar cycle) and on shorter temporal scales (solar rotation). The main electronic peak is shown to be located at the same pressure level during all the Martian year. As a consequence, its altitude varies with latitude, local time and season according to the natural expansions and fluctuations of the neutral atmosphere, in agreement with previous models. The model predicts a nighttime ionosphere due only to photochemistry. The simulated ionosphere close to the evening terminator is in agreement with observations. No effort has been made to explain the patchy ionosphere observed in the deep nightside. We have compared the modeled ionosphere with MGS and MARSIS data. The model reproduces the SZA variability of the electron density and the altitude of the peak, although it underestimates the electron density at the main peak by about 20%. The electron density at the secondary peak is strongly underestimated by the model, probably due to a very crude representation of the X-ray solar flux. This is one of the aspects that needs a revision in future versions of the model.
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F. González-Galindo, Jean-Yves Chaufray, M. A. López-Valverde, G. Gilli, François Forget, et al.. Three-dimensional Martian Ionosphere model: I. The photochemical ionosphere below 180 km. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, 118 (10), pp.2105-2123. ⟨10.1002/jgre.20150⟩. ⟨hal-00861867⟩

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