Estimating Ion Escape from Unmagnetized Planets
- Swedish Institute of Space Physics, PO Box 812, SE-981 28 Kiruna, Sweden
Abstract. We propose a new method to estimate ion escape from unmagnetized planets that combines observations and models. Assuming that upstream solar wind conditions are known, a computer model of the interaction between the solar wind and the planet is executed for different ionospheric ion production rates. This results in different amounts of mass loading of the solar wind. Then we obtain the ion escape rate from the model run that best fit observations of the bow shock location. As an example of the method we estimate the heavy ion escape from Mars on 2015-03-01 to be 2 · 1024 ions per second, using a hybrid plasma model and observations by MAVEN and Mars Express. This method enables studies of how escape depend on different parameters, and also escape rates during extreme solar wind conditions, applicable to studies of escape in the early solar system, and at exoplanets.
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