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Heavy Ion Flows in the Upper Ionosphere of the Venusian North Pole
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2019 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics, ISSN 2169-9380, E-ISSN 2169-9402, Vol. 124, no 6, p. 4597-4607Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We investigate the heavy ion density and velocity in the Venusian upper ionosphere near the North Pole, using the Ion Mass Analyzer, a part of the Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms 4, together with the magnetic field instruments on Venus Express. The measurements were made during June-July 2014, covering the aerobraking campaign with lowered altitude measurements (similar to 130 km). The plasma scale heights are similar to 15 km below 150-km altitude and similar to 200 km at 150-400-km altitude. A clear trend of dusk-to-dawn heavy ion flow across the polar ionosphere was found, with speeds of similar to 2-10 km/s. In addition, the flow has a significant downward radial velocity component. The flow pattern does not depend on the interplanetary magnetic field directions nor the ionospheric magnetization states. Instead, we suggest a thermal pressure gradient between the equatorial and polar terminator regions, induced by the decrease in density between the regions, as the dominant mechanism driving the ion flow. Plain Language Summary We have calculated the ion density and velocities in the Venusian polar ionosphere using measurements from the Ion Mass Analyzer on board the Venus Express spacecraft. During June-July 2014 the periapsis was lowered to similar to 130 km, which allowed for measurements down to low altitudes of the ionosphere near the North Pole. The plasma scale heights are similar to 15 km below 150-km altitude and similar to 200 km at 150-400 km, which is similar to what was found near the equatorial region by the Pioneer Venus mission. In addition, there is a clear trend of dusk-to-dawn flow, along the terminator, for the heavy ions. This is surprising, as a general flow from day-to-night is expected for the Venusian ionosphere due to the long nights and significant heating of the dayside upper atmosphere. The interplanetary magnetic field direction does not appear to affect the ion flow pattern. Instead, we propose a thermal pressure gradient as the dominant accelerating mechanism, induced by the decrease in density from the equator toward the pole.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION , 2019. Vol. 124, no 6, p. 4597-4607
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Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-162017DOI: 10.1029/2018JA026271ISI: 000477723100049OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-162017DiVA, id: diva2:1341993
Available from: 2019-08-12 Created: 2019-08-12 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved

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Hamrin, Maria

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