MARS has been a source of fascination and wonder for millennia. Quantitative scientific investigation began with the work of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler in the 16th and 17th centuries. In situ investigation of Mars began with the fly-by of Mars by Mariner 4 on 14-15 July 1965, fifty years ago this summer. Since then, humankind has sent 44 missions to Mars, 22 of which have succeeded.Many missions to Mars have helped to show the rich and ever-changing nature of the plasma environment around Mars. Together, the absence of a strong global-scale field and the presence of localized regions of crustal magnetization ensure that the magnetosphere and ionosphere of Mars display unique behavior not seen anywhere else in the solar system. The need to determine how the ionosphere varies on small spatial and temporal scales motivates the three science goals of this project.

  • How does the ionosphere respond to solar wind dynamics?
  • What small-scale structures exist in the lower ionosphere of Mars?
  • How is the ionosphere on the night side maintained?

Next: Science Goals