MAVEN IUVS observations of the aftermath of the Comet Siding Spring meteor shower on Mars

N. M. Schneider, J. I. Deighan, A. I.F. Stewart, W. E. McClintock, S. K. Jain, M. S. Chaffin, A. Stiepen, M. Crismani, J. M.C. Plane, J. D. Carrillo-Sánchez, J. S. Evans, M. H. Stevens, R. V. Yelle, J. T. Clarke, G. M. Holsclaw, F. Montmessin, B. M. Jakosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


We report the detection of intense emission from magnesium and iron in Mars' atmosphere caused by a meteor shower following Comet Siding Spring's close encounter with Mars. The observations were made with the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph, a remote sensing instrument on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN spacecraft orbiting Mars. Ionized magnesium caused the brightest emission from the planet's atmosphere for many hours, resulting from resonant scattering of solar ultraviolet light. Modeling suggests a substantial fluence of low-density dust particles 1-100 μm in size, with the large amount and small size contrary to predictions. The event created a temporary planet-wide ionospheric layer below Mars' main dayside ionosphere. The dramatic meteor shower response at Mars is starkly different from the case at Earth, where a steady state metal layer is always observable but perturbations caused by even the strongest meteor showers are challenging to detect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4755-4761
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 28 2015


  • Comet Siding Spring
  • Mars
  • ionosphere
  • meteor ablation
  • meteor shower

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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