Energetic particle studies at Mars by SLED on Phobos 2

S. McKenna-Lawlor, V. V. Afonin, K. I. Gringauz, K. Kecskemety, E. Keppler, E. Kirsch, A. Richter, P. Rusznyak, K. Schwingenschuh, D. O'Sullivan, A. J. Somogyi, L. Szabo, A. Thompson, A. Varga, Ye Yeroshenko, M. Witte

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A preliminary overview of particle records obtained by the SLED instrument on Phobos 2, February-March, 1989 during Mars encounter, is presented. Data obtained while in close elliptical orbit around the planet (pericenter < 900 km), in both spin and three axis stabilised mode, display evidence of energy related particle shadowing by the body of Mars. This effect was also observed, under favourable conditions, in certain circular orbits (altitude 6330 km above the planet). Flux enhancements, inside the magnetopause, in the approximate range 30-350 keV, recorded in the same general location at < 900 km above Mars over an 8 day period during three consecutive elliptical orbits, are described. Possible explanations of these enhancements include the presence of quasi-trapped radiation at the planet and the detection of the propagation of accelerated particles along the boundary of the magnetopause from the day to the night side of Mars. Large anisotropic ion flux increases (1-1.5 orders of magnitude) in the approximate range 30-200 keV recorded in front of the bow shock (inbound and outbound) during certain circular orbits, provide evidence that the spacecraft traversed strongly anisotopic jets of energetic particles. These are suggested to have constituted O+ ions. The pickup process would have been sufficient to accelerate such ions to their observed energies in the prevailing solar wind conditions. Alternatively, they might have comprised particles that had leaked from inside the magnetopause, perhaps undergoing shock drift acceleration in the process. Significant flux enhancements were also sometimes identified in the magnetotail (approximate energy range 30-50 keV). These are suggested to represent the signatures of O+ beams, impelled by acceleration processes similar to those associated with terrestrial ion beams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

McKenna-Lawlor, S., Afonin, V. V., Gringauz, K. I., Kecskemety, K., Keppler, E., Kirsch, E., Richter, A., Rusznyak, P., Schwingenschuh, K., O'Sullivan, D., Somogyi, A. J., Szabo, L., Thompson, A., Varga, A., Yeroshenko, Y., & Witte, M. (1992). Energetic particle studies at Mars by SLED on Phobos 2. Advances in Space Research, 12(9), 231-241. https://doi.org/10.1016/0273-1177(92)90335-U