Author(s): Gina A DiBraccio1, Janet Luhmann4, Shannon Curry4, Jared R. Espley1, Jacob Gruesbeck1, Shaosui Xu4, David Mitchell4, Yasir Soobiah1, John E.P. Connerney1, Chuanfei Dong2, Yuki Harada3, Suranga Ruhunusiri3, Jasper Halekas3, Takuya Hara4, Yingjuan Ma5, David Brain6, Bruce Jakosky6
Institution(s): 1. NASA GSFC, 2. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, 3. The University of Iowa, 4. UC Berkeley, 5. UCLA, 6. University of Colorado
The Martian magnetosphere forms as the solar wind directly interacts with the planet’s upper atmosphere. During this interaction, the Sun’s interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) drapes around the planet and local crustal magnetic fields, creating a magnetosphere configuration that has attributes of both an induced magnetosphere like that of Venus, and a complex, small-scale magnetosphere like the Moon. In addition to the closed crustal fields and draped IMF at Mars, open magnetic fields are created when magnetic reconnection occurs between the planetary fields and the IMF. These various field topologies present a complex magnetotail structure that we are now able to explore using a combination of MAVEN observations and magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations. Preliminary MHD results have suggested that the Martian magnetotail includes a dual-lobe component, composed of open crustal fields, enveloped by an induced comet-like tail. These simulated open-field lobes are twisted by roughly 45°, either clockwise or counterclockwise, from the ecliptic plane. This rotation depends on the east-west component of the IMF. We utilize MAVEN Magnetometer and Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA) measurements collected over two Earth years to analyze the tail magnetic field configuration as a function of IMF direction. Cross-tail views of the average measured magnetic field components directed toward and away from the planet are compared for a variety of solar wind parameters. We find that, in agreement with simulation results, the east-west IMF component strongly affects the magnetotail structure, twisting its sunward-antisunward polarity patterns in response to changing IMF orientation. Through a data-model comparison we are able to infer that regions of open magnetic fields in the tail are likely reconnected crustal fields. Futhermore, these open fields in the tail may contribute to atmospheric escape to space. From this investigation we are able to confirm that the Martian magnetotail is a hybrid configuration between intrinsic and induced magnetospheres, shifting the paradigm of Mars’ magnetosphere as we have understood it thus far.