Day-to-night transport in the Martian ionosphere: Implications from total electron content measurements

J. Cui, M. Galand, R. V. Yelle, Y. Wei, S. J. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


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. Key Points The role of day-to-night transport in the Martian ionosphere is evaluated Transport is dominant within 5300 s after terminator crossing A zonal electron flow velocity of 1.9 km/s best reproduces the data

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2333-2346
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Martian ionosphere
  • day-to-night transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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