The dayside N2/CO2 at 140 km altitude in the Martian thermosphere has been investigated by the imaging ultraviolet spectrograph (IUVS) aboard the Mars atmosphere and volatile evolution spacecraft during the period from October 2014 to May 2018. We find that N2/CO2 at 140 km altitude varies significantly in the range of 0.02–0.20 and shows a seasonal sinusoidal trend. The higher value appears during aphelion and the lower value during perihelion. Variations of observed N2/CO2 ratio at 140 km are mainly associated with CO2 number density. Thus, while we found that N2/CO2 varies at a given altitude, we could not identify variations at a given pressure level. In order to reveal the drivers of N2/CO2 variations at 140 km, we examine the effects of surface N2/CO2, thermospheric temperature, and homopause altitude. The variations of homopause altitude could be the dominant driver of changes in N2/CO2. Inferred dayside homopause altitudes derived from IUVS observations show an anti-correlation with the trend of N2/CO2 at 140 km. Distributions of CO2 density at the inferred homopause altitudes suggest that dayside homopause altitude is mainly controlled by inflation and contraction of the lower atmosphere. Additionally, N2/CO2 shows a clear latitudinal dependence for Ls = 80°–100°. Higher N2/CO2 values appear in the southern winter hemisphere, corresponding to lower homopause altitude by ∼30 km. Meanwhile, the latitudinal dependence of both N2/CO2 and homopause altitude disappears for Ls = 340°–360°.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science