Dayside episodic ion outflow from Martian magnetic cusps and/or magnetosheath boundary motion associated with plasma oscillations
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The radar sounder on the Mars Express Spacecraft is able to make measurements of electron densities in the Martian ionosphere from both local electron plasma oscillations and remote soundings. A study of thousands of orbits shows that in some cases the electron plasma oscillations disappear and reappear abruptly near the upper boundary of the dayside ionosphere. In some cases, the Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms (ASPERA-3) data show clear evidence of upwardly accelerated ionospheric ions, on interconnected magnetic field lines. In other cases, ASPERA-3 data show that when the plasma oscillations disappear, the spacecraft is in the magnetosheath and when they return, the ionospheric plasma reappears. These intermittent appearances of plasma suggest the multiple crossings of the magnetosheath boundary. The motion of the boundary or plasma clouds and ionospheric streamers (a relatively narrow strip of plasma attached to the ionosphere) can cause these multiple crossings.