Date Approved

2018

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Physics and Astronomy

Committee Member

David Pawlowski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Patrick Koehn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Sheerin, Ph.D.

Abstract

This report describes the methods used to examine how the Martian atmosphere responds to increases in different portions of the electromagnetic spectrum during solar flares. On March 24, 2015 the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission satellite made measurements of the atmosphere and solar irradiance during a solar flare. These measurements were used by the Flare Irradiance Spectral Model (FISM) to generate solar flux values for 59 wavelength bins describing flare event. The solar flux values at different wavelength bins were scaled by different amounts and input into the Mars Global Ionosphere Thermosphere Model (M-GITM) to create 16 distinct 3D simulations of the Martian atmosphere, and the response of the atmosphere was examined. When the regions 30-125 nm, and 50-100 nm were increased there was an average increase in neutral density of 0.11% and 0.035%, respectively, for each additional percent the flux above the background levels was scaled. It was also found that when the solar flux at wavelengths 30 nm and above were increased there was almost no effect on the electron density below the F region. Finally the largest simulated change in temperature (29.9 K) was approximately half of the increase in temperature measured by the MAVEN mission (64.4 K). This is most likely due to other factors that were not included in these simulations, such as coronal mass ejection activity, or waves from lower in the atmosphere.

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