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Surprising Decrease in the Martian He Bulge during PEDE-2018 and Changes in Upper Atmospheric Circulation
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  • Meredith K Elrod,
  • Stephen W. Bougher,
  • Kali J. Roeten,
  • Kenneth Arnold
Meredith K Elrod
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Corresponding Author:meredith.k.elrod@nasa.gov

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Stephen W. Bougher
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Kali J. Roeten
U. of Michigan
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Kenneth Arnold
University of Maryland
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Using the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) on the Mars Atmosphere Volatile and Evolution spacecraft (MAVEN) we analyzed data from Mars Year (MY) 32, 34, and 35 to examine the He bulge during the northern winter solstice (Ls ~180-240) specifically focusing on the effects from the planet encircling dust event (PEDE-2018). He collects on the dawn/nightside winter polar hemisphere of the terrestrial planets (Earth, Mars, and Venus). The seasonal migration of the Martian He bulge has been observed and modeled (Elrod et al., 2017, Gupta et al., 2021). The MAVEN orbit precesses around Mars allowing for a variety of latitude and local time observations throughout the Martian year. MY32, 34 and 35 had the best possible opportunities to observe the He bulge during northern winter (Ls ~180-240). NGIMS observations during MY 32 and MY 35 revealed a He bulge on the nightside to dawn in alignment with modeling and previous publications. However, in MY 34, during the PEDE, the He bulge was not present indicating the PEDE directly impacted upper atmospheric circulation. Updates in modeling indicate changes in circulation and winds can cause He to shift further north and dawn-ward than MAVEN was able to observe. The temperature increases in the thermosphere on the nightside during the dust storm along with changes in gravity waves and eddy diffusion occurring during this event could account for this circulation change.