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The DYNAMO Orbiter Project: High Resolution Mapping of Gravity/Magnetic Fields and In Situ Investigation of Mars Atmospheric EscapeDynamo is a small Mars orbiter planned to be launched in 2005 or 2007, in the frame of the NASA/CNES Mars exploration program. It is aimed at improving gravity and magnetic field resolution, in order to better understand the magnetic, geologic and thermal history of Mars, and at characterizing current atmospheric escape, which is still poorly constrained. These objectives are achieved by using a low periapsis orbit, similar to the one used by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft during its aerobraking phases. The proposed periapsis altitude for Dynamo of 120-130 km, coupled with the global distribution of periapses to be obtained during one Martian year of operation, through about 5000 low passes, will produce a magnetic/gravity field data set with approximately five times the spatial resolution of MGS. Low periapsis provides a unique opportunity to investigate the chemical and dynamical properties of the deep ionosphere, thermosphere, and the interaction between the atmosphere and the solar wind, therefore atmospheric escape, which may have played a crucial role in removing atmosphere, and water, from the planet. There is much room for debate on the importance of current atmosphere escape processes in the evolution of the Martian atmosphere, as early "exotic" processes including hydrodynamic escape and impact erosion are traditionally invoked to explain the apparent sparse inventory of present-day volatiles. Yet, the combination of low surface gravity and the absence of a substantial internally generated magnetic field have undeniable effects on what we observe today. In addition to the current losses in the forms of Jeans and photochemical escape of neutrals, there are solar wind interaction-related erosion mechanisms because the upper atmosphere is directly exposed to the solar wind. The solar wind related loss rates, while now comparable to those of a modest comet, nonetheless occur continuously, with the intriguing possibility of important cumulative and/or enhanced effects over the several billion years of the solar system's life. If the detailed history of the Martian internal field could be traced back, and the current escape processes could be understood well enough to model the expected stronger losses under early Sun conditions, one could go a long way toward constraining this part of the mysterious history of Mars' atmosphere.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Conference Paper
Smrekar, S.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA United States)
Chassefiere, E.
(Paris VI Univ. France)
Forget, F.
(Paris VI Univ. France)
Reme, H.
(Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements Toulouse, France)
Mazelle, C.
(Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements Toulouse, France)
Blelly, P. -L.
(Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements Toulouse, France)
Acuna, M.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Connerney, J.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Purucker, M.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Lin, R.
(California Univ. Berkeley, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 2000
Publication Information
Publication: Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration
Issue: Part 1
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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