Leicester physicists part of team studying impact of solar wind on Mars atmosphere University of Leicester

Space physicists from the University of Leicester are part of an international team that has identified the impact of the Sun on Mars’ atmosphere.
Writing in the AGU journal Geophysics Research Letters, the scientists report that Mars is constantly losing part of its atmosphere to space.
The new study shows that pressure from solar wind pulses is a significant contributor to Mars’s atmospheric escape.
The researchers analysed solar wind data and satellite observations that track the flux of heavy ions leaving Mars’s atmosphere. The authors found that Mars’s atmosphere does not drift away at a steady pace; instead, atmospheric escape occurs in bursts.
The researchers related those bursts of atmospheric loss to solar events known as corotating interaction regions (CIRs). CIRs form when regions of fast solar wind encounter slower solar wind, creating a high-pressure pulse. When these CIR pulses pass by Mars, they can drive away particles from Mars’s atmosphere.