Mars Global Ionosphere-Thermosphere Model: Solar cycle, seasonal, and diurnal variations of the Mars upper atmosphere
A new Mars Global Ionosphere-Thermosphere Model (M-GITM) is presented that combines the terrestrial GITM framework with Mars fundamental physical parameters, ion-neutral chemistry, and key radiative processes in order to capture the basic observed features of the thermal, compositional, and dynamical structure of the Mars atmosphere from the ground to the exosphere (0-250 km). Lower, middle, and upper atmosphere processes are included, based in part upon formulations used in previous lower and upper atmosphere Mars GCMs. This enables the M-GITM code to be run for various seasonal, solar cycle, and dust conditions. M-GITM validation studies have focused upon simulations for a range of solar and seasonal conditions. Key upper atmosphere measurements are selected for comparison to corresponding M-GITM neutral temperatures and neutral-ion densities. In addition, simulated lower atmosphere temperatures are compared with observations in order to provide a first-order confirmation of a realistic lower atmosphere. M-GITM captures solar cycle and seasonal trends in the upper atmosphere that are consistent with observations, yielding significant periodic changes in the temperature structure, the species density distributions, and the large-scale global wind system. For instance, mid afternoon temperatures near ∼200 km are predicted to vary from ∼210 to 350 K (equinox) and ∼190 to 390 k (aphelion to perihelion) over the solar cycle. These simulations will serve as a benchmark against which to compare episodic variations (e.g., due to solar flares and dust storms) in future M-GITM studies. Additionally, M-GITM will be used to support MAVEN mission activities (2014-2016).