2018.A.2.5. Mars Ion and Sputtering Escape Network


Rob Lillis (1)
Shannon Curry (1)
Janet Luhmann (1)
Jeff Parker (2)
David Brain (3)

  1. University of California Berkeley, United States of America
  2. Advanced Space LLC, United States of America
  3. University of Colorado, United States of America




Mars, Escape, magnetic


Ion escape and sputtering escape of atmosphere have played important roles in the history of Martian. climate and habitability, as drivers for its evolution from a planet where liquid water was at least episodically stable, to the cold, arid planet we see today. The MAVEN mission has substantially improved our understanding of these processes over the last two years by providing measurements of planetary ions (escaping from, and precipitating into, the Martian atmosphere) and intermittent sampling of the upstream solar wind conditions that drive these processes

However, MAVEN is fundamentally limited by its single measurement platform: a) spatial and temporal variations in escape fluxes cannot be distinguished from one another, b) responses of escape fluxes to changing solar wind conditions (typically ~1 minute) can only be measured with a time-lag of an hour or more (if at all) and c) global escape rate variability in response to space weather “storms”, much more common and intense in the early solar system, must be estimated (poorly) from a single orbit track.

MISEN’s objectives are to characterize the global patterns, variability, and real-time response to changing solar wind conditions, of ion and sputtering escape at Mars. MISEN consists of 3 identical spacecraft in complementary elliptical orbits around Mars, each measuring magnetic field and electron and ion energy spectra and angular distributions, ensuring global coverage of both the precipitation and escape of planetary heavy ions from Mars, as well as >95% coverage of upstream solar wind conditions.
The three spacecraft will separate from the ESPA ring after a trans-Mars injection burn and cruise via a constant-thrust trajectory to a Mars rendezvous in under two years. The MISEN Science payload consists of:
a) Magnetometer, accommodated on a folding boom
b) Ion spectrometer, with mass discrimination, to detect precipitating and escaping planetary ions
c) Electron spectrometer, to determine magnetic topology.
A foldable antenna and IRIS radio will transmit science data directly back from Mars orbit without the need for relay from existing Mars assets. Mission operations are simple, with the spacecraft spinning in order to collect fully three-dimensional plasma data. No special pointing is required except during downlink. In summary, MISEN will provide simultaneous multi-point measurements of the plasma environment in near-Mars space, building on MAVEN’s legacy for a fraction of the cost, and revealing for the first time the global patterns of ion and sputtering escape, and how and why they vary.


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