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R. E. Johnson, F. Leblanc (Engineering Physics - Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia), J. G. Luhmann (Space Sciences Laboratory), S. H. Brecht (Bay Area Research Corp.)
The sputtering of the atmosphere of Mars by incident solar wind ions and pick-up ions is studied using 1-D and 2-D Direct Simulation Monte Carlo models (DSMC) and a 3-D Monte Carlo model. These models allow us to treat different aspects of the interaction of the solar wind with the atmosphere of Mars. The incident flux and its effects produce enhanced population of the corona, heating of the atmosphere, a change in the composition around the exobase and significant loss of atmosphere. In this work, we will present the effects of the pick-up ions on a multi-species atmosphere and we will give a 3-D picture of the formation of the atomic corona. We will also compare the effect of the heavy ions in the solar wind on the Mars' atmosphere with that due to pick-up ions and the EUV/UV. An estimate of the total loss of atmosphere along Mars history due to its interaction with the solar wind will be provided. This work was supported by the NASA's Planetary Atmosphere Program.
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