The Impact of Crustal Magnetic Fields on the Thermal Structure of the Martian Upper Atmosphere

J. Cui, R. V. Yelle, L. L. Zhao, S. Stone, F. Y. Jiang, Y. T. Cao, M. J. Yao, T. T. Koskinen, Y. Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Using the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer data, we investigate the possible impact of crustal magnetic fields on the thermal structure of the Martian upper atmosphere. Our analysis reveals a clear enhancement in temperature over regions with strong crustal magnetic fields during two deep dip campaigns covering the periods of April 17-22 and September 2-8, both in 2015. Several controlling factors, such as solar EUV irradiance, relative atomic O abundance, and non-migrating tides, do not help to explain the observed temperature enhancement, and a magnetically driven scenario is favored. We evaluate the roles of several heating mechanisms that are likely modulated by the presence of crustal magnetic fields, including Joule heating, ion chemical heating, as well as electron impact heating via either precipitating solar wind electrons or locally produced photoelectrons. The respective heating rates of these mechanisms are substantially lower than the solar EUV heating rate, implying that none of them is able to interpret the observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL33
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Gravitational-wave astrophysics
  • binary black holes
  • double white dwarfs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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