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Science. 2004 Sep 24;305(5692):1933-6.

Solar wind-induced atmospheric erosion at Mars: first results from ASPERA-3 on Mars Express.

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Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Box 812, S-98 128, Kiruna, Sweden.


The Analyzer of Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms (ASPERA) on board the Mars Express spacecraft found that solar wind plasma and accelerated ionospheric ions may be observed all the way down to the Mars Express pericenter of 270 kilometers above the dayside planetary surface. This is very deep in the ionosphere, implying direct exposure of the martian topside atmosphere to solar wind plasma forcing. The low-altitude penetration of solar wind plasma and the energization of ionospheric plasma may be due to solar wind irregularities or perturbations, to magnetic anomalies at Mars, or both.

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