Ionospheres of the Terrestrial Planets Stan Solomon High

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Ionospheres of the Terrestrial Planets Stan Solomon High Altitude Observatory National Center for Atmospheric

Ionospheres of the Terrestrial Planets Stan Solomon High Altitude Observatory National Center for Atmospheric Research [email protected] edu 1

Outline • Introduction to Earth’s ionosphere • Overview of Earth’s atmosphere • Ionization processes

Outline • Introduction to Earth’s ionosphere • Overview of Earth’s atmosphere • Ionization processes • Chemical processes • Mars & Venus • Why is Earth so different? 2

“Layers” in Earth’s Ionosphere 3

“Layers” in Earth’s Ionosphere 3

Reflection of Radio Waves by the Ionosphere Reflection starts at the “Critical Frequency”, which

Reflection of Radio Waves by the Ionosphere Reflection starts at the “Critical Frequency”, which is when the radio frequency equals the plasma frequency. (f 0 in megahertz, ne in cm-3) 4

Critical Frequency Varies with Season and Solar Cycle 5

Critical Frequency Varies with Season and Solar Cycle 5

The Ionsphere is Mostly Neutral 6

The Ionsphere is Mostly Neutral 6

Thermal Structure of Earth’s Atmosphere 7

Thermal Structure of Earth’s Atmosphere 7

Density Structure of the Earth’s Atmosphere 8

Density Structure of the Earth’s Atmosphere 8

Atmospheric Distribution in Hydrostatic Equilibrium 9

Atmospheric Distribution in Hydrostatic Equilibrium 9

Atmospheric Density Distribution If T, M, and g are not functions of z: Mixed

Atmospheric Density Distribution If T, M, and g are not functions of z: Mixed atmosphere (below ~100 km): M is the mean molecular weight of atmospheric gases Diffusively separating atmosphere (above ~100 km): mi is the molecular weight of individual species — Each species follows its own scale height. 10

Column Density: the number of molecules per unit area in a column above z

Column Density: the number of molecules per unit area in a column above z 0: Approximation for constant H: 11

Time Out to Think Suppose that a satellite is in low-Earth orbit at 300

Time Out to Think Suppose that a satellite is in low-Earth orbit at 300 km altitude. If the temperature of thermosphere increases (for instance, as a result of an increase in solar ultraviolet radiation) then the density at 300 km will: 1. Increase 2. Decrease 12

The Solar Spectrum 13

The Solar Spectrum 13

Solar Extreme-Ultraviolet and Soft X-ray Spectrum 14

Solar Extreme-Ultraviolet and Soft X-ray Spectrum 14

Where does ionization occur in an atmosphere? Controlled by cross sections of atmospheric gases

Where does ionization occur in an atmosphere? Controlled by cross sections of atmospheric gases for absorption (s) and ionization (si). Which are in general a function of wavelength (l). For a single-species, plane-parallel atmosphere, at any particular l: Ionization Rate = (radiation intensity) x (ionization cross section) x (density) Beer’s law: where tz is the optical depth: and m = cos (solar zenith angle) 15

Chapman Function 16

Chapman Function 16

Where is the peak of a Chapman function? 17

Where is the peak of a Chapman function? 17

Canonical Plot of t=1 18

Canonical Plot of t=1 18

Solar Extreme-Ultraviolet and Soft X-ray Spectrum 19

Solar Extreme-Ultraviolet and Soft X-ray Spectrum 19

Wavelength-Dependence of Ionization Rates (solar min) 20

Wavelength-Dependence of Ionization Rates (solar min) 20

Wavelength-Dependence of Ionization Rates (solar max) 21

Wavelength-Dependence of Ionization Rates (solar max) 21

Basic Altitude Structure of the Earth’s Ionosphere What is all this ionization doing way

Basic Altitude Structure of the Earth’s Ionosphere What is all this ionization doing way up in here in the “F region” ? ? 22

Principal Ionization Processes on Earth 23

Principal Ionization Processes on Earth 23

Types of Ionospheric Chemical Reactions Radiative Recombination X+ + e- X + hn slow,

Types of Ionospheric Chemical Reactions Radiative Recombination X+ + e- X + hn slow, rate coefficients of the order of 10 -12 cm 3 s-1 Dissociative Recombination XY+ + e- X + Y fast, rate coefficients of the order of 10 -7 cm 3 s-1 Charge Exchange WX+ + YZ WX + YZ+ moderately fast, rate coefficients of the order of 10 -10 cm 3 s-1 Atom-Ion Interchange X+ + YZ XY + Z+ rate depends on the strength of the YZ bond 24

Simple Case – Single Species Molecular Atmosphere M 2 + hn M 2+ ionization

Simple Case – Single Species Molecular Atmosphere M 2 + hn M 2+ ionization rate q M 2 + + e - M + M rate coefficient a Assuming photochemical equilibrium: q = a [M 2+] [e-] Assuming charge neutrality: [e-] = (q/a)1/2 This formula approximates densities in the “E region” of Earth’s ionosphere, since it is mostly molecular ions, photochemical equilibrium applies, and most dissociate recombination rates are similar (i. e. , very fast). 25

Complicated Case – Earth’s F-Region Ionosphere Because of the decrease in molecular densities, the

Complicated Case – Earth’s F-Region Ionosphere Because of the decrease in molecular densities, the photochemical lifetime of O+ becomes longer than the diffusion lifetime (time it takes to move a scale height in the vertical direction) above ~200 km. Thus, the F region is not a simple Chapman layer caused by the absorption of radiation, but rather a balance between chemical production at lower altitude and ambipolar diffusion at higher altitude. The long lifetime of O+ at high altitude is also why the F 2 region persists at night. 26

Principal Ionization Processes on Earth 27

Principal Ionization Processes on Earth 27

Composition of the Earth’s Ionosphere 28

Composition of the Earth’s Ionosphere 28

Ionospheric Electrodynamics 29

Ionospheric Electrodynamics 29

International Reference Ionosphere at 300 km 30

International Reference Ionosphere at 300 km 30

Ionospheres of Other Terrestrial Planets Model simulations (solid lines) and in-situ measurements from Viking-I

Ionospheres of Other Terrestrial Planets Model simulations (solid lines) and in-situ measurements from Viking-I for the dayside ionosphere of Mars. 31

Ionosphere of Venus Model simulations (above) and in-situ measurements (right) made on Pioneer Venus.

Ionosphere of Venus Model simulations (above) and in-situ measurements (right) made on Pioneer Venus. 32

Why are the ionospheres of Mars and Venus, although similar to each other, so

Why are the ionospheres of Mars and Venus, although similar to each other, so different from Earth? N 2+, O 2+ and O+ are the most abundantly produced ions in Earth’s ionosphere because N 2, O 2 and O are the most abundant neutral species in the lower part of thermosphere. However, the most abundant ions below 300 km are O+, NO+, and O 2 + On Mars and Venus the most abundantly produced ions are CO 2+ and O+, but the most abundant ions are O 2+ and O+. Unlike Earth, there is no “F 2 region”, and very little ionization at night. — Why doesn’t O+ have a longer lifetime on Mars and Venus? — Why is there so much O 2+ when there’s so little O 2 in their atmospheres? 33

Atmospheric Composition of the Terrestrial Planets The atmospheres of Earth, Venus and Mars contain

Atmospheric Composition of the Terrestrial Planets The atmospheres of Earth, Venus and Mars contain many of the same gases, but in very different absolute and relative abundances. Some values are lower limits only, reflecting the past escape of gas to space and other factors. 34

Average Temperature Profiles of the Terrestrial Planets 35

Average Temperature Profiles of the Terrestrial Planets 35

Upper Atmosphere of Mars 36

Upper Atmosphere of Mars 36

Upper Atmosphere of Venus 37

Upper Atmosphere of Venus 37

Principal Ionization Processes on Venus & Mars hn hn CO 2 O CO 2+

Principal Ionization Processes on Venus & Mars hn hn CO 2 O CO 2+ e O O+ CO 2 O CO + O Weak bond, fast reaction O 2+ Another fast reaction e O+O 38

Venus and Mars are “Normal”, Earth is Anomalous On Venus and Mars, O+ reacts

Venus and Mars are “Normal”, Earth is Anomalous On Venus and Mars, O+ reacts rapidly with CO 2 and CO 2+ reacts rapidly with O because these atom-ion interchange reactions have fast rate coefficients. This is because CO 2 is not very strongly bonded, compared to N 2. Therefore, Venus and Mars ionospheres are “E region” (or “F 1 region”) types, controlled mostly by photochemical equilibrium at their peaks. Earth lacks sufficient carbon in its atmosphere, and doesn’t have enough O 2 at high altitude, for this to happen. Atom-ion interchange of O+ with N 2 is very slow, due to the strength of the N 2 bond. This creates the high, dense, persistant “F 2 region” and a lot of interesting ionospheric variability. 39

So… Where’s the Carbon? 40

So… Where’s the Carbon? 40

Genesse River, Letchworth State Park, N. Y. 41

Genesse River, Letchworth State Park, N. Y. 41

Middle Falls 42

Middle Falls 42

White Cliffs of Dover 43

White Cliffs of Dover 43

The Earth’s Carbon Cycle 44

The Earth’s Carbon Cycle 44

Time Out to Think A high, dense, “F 2 layer” ionosphere observed on a

Time Out to Think A high, dense, “F 2 layer” ionosphere observed on a terrestrial-type planet would be a sign of life on that planet. 1. True 2. False 45