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Mars sits very exposed to the solar wind and, because it is a small planet, has but a weak hold on its atmosphere. The solar wind therefore plays an important role in the evolution of the martian atmosphere. Over the last four decades a series of European missions, first from the Soviet Union and more recently from the European Space Agency, together with a single investigation from the U.S., the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, have added immeasurably to our understanding of the interplay between the solar wind and Mars atmosphere.
Most recently the measurements of the plasma and fast neutral populations, conducted on the Mars Express spacecraft by the ASPERA-3 instrument have been acquired and analyzed. Their presentation to the public, most notably at the workshop "The Solar Wind Interaction and Atmosphere Evolution of Mars" held in Kiruna in early 2006, was the inspiration for this series of articles. However participation in the Kiruna conference was not a selection criterion for this volume. The papers cover the ancient sun and evolution of the solar wind, the physics of the solar wind interaction, the measurements of the hot plasma and fast neutrals by ASPERA-3, the ionosphere by MARSIS, and the x-rays emitted by the atmosphere.
The authors of this volume include many international scientists at the cutting edge of research into the Mars plasma environment. The volume documents the impressive leap forward in our comprehension of this complex environment in the years since the orbit insertion of Mars Express.
Reprinted from Space Science Reviews journal, Volume 126/1-4, 2006
The Solar Wind and The Sun In The Past.- The Solar Wind Interaction with the Martian Ionosphere/Atmosphere.- Energisation of O+ and O2+ ions at Mars: An analysis of a 3-D quasi-neutral hybrid model simulation.- Mars Global MHD predictions of magnetic connectivity between the dayside ionosphere and the magnetospheric flanks.- Mars Global Surveyor Measurements Of The Martian Solar Wind Interaction.- The Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms (ASPERA-3)for the Mars Express Mission.-Plasma Moments in the environment of Mars: Mars Express ASPERA-3 Observations.-Plasma morphology at Mars. ASPERA-3 observations.- IMF direction derived from cycloid-like ion distribution observed by Mars Express.- Energetic Hydrogen and Oxygen Atoms Observed On The Nightside of Mars.- Observations of the Martian Subsolar ENA Jet Oscillations.- Global response of Martian plasma environment to an interplanetary shock: From ENA and plasma observations at Mars.- Auroral Plasma Acceleration above Martian Magnetic Anomalies.- Investigation of the influence of magnetic anomalies on ion distributions at Mars.- Observations of vertical reflections from the top side Martian ionosphere.- Locations of Atmospheric Photoelectron Energy Peaks within the Mars Environment.- X--Rays from Mars.- Asymmetries in Mars' Exosphere: Implications for X-ray and ENA Imaging.- The Hydrogen Exospheric Density Profile Measured with ASPERA-3/NPD.- Effects of low energetic neutral atoms on Martian and Venusian dayside exospheric temperature estimations.
The author has been a principal investigator of instruments on many terrestrial and planetary probes, and has published close to 1200 papers on topics in planetary and space physics. He is currently the principal investigator of the Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres.