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Relationships Between the Martian Surface and Plasma Environment

Students from Oasis Shirley Park and Catherine Regan

There are several boundaries in the space plasma around Mars that are formed as the solar wind is slowed and deflected around the planet. The location of these boundaries is very sensitive to changes in the solar wind conditions, and can move closer and further from the surface of Mars. It is still not understood how these boundaries change due to changing conditions on the surface of the planet, such as differences in topology, weather and climate. Mars experiences surface changes in temperature, density and weather conditions on a daily basis, as well as over the Martian year as the seasons change. In addition, each Martian year there is a dust season when an increase in temperatures in the southern hemispheric summer triggers dust storms, which can dominate regions on the planet and potentially grow into a planet-wide storm system. This causes the surface temperatures of Mars to increase as well as a rise in atmospheric escape due to more mixing of atmospheric particles at higher altitudes. Using data from satellites and rovers at Mars, we look at the relationship between the surface conditions on Mars and how this may influence the location of plasma boundaries.

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