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Progress on understanding the influence of planetary magnetic fields on atmospheric escape rates

Presentation #502.06 in the session “Solar Wind & Exospheres”.

Published onOct 03, 2021
Progress on understanding the influence of planetary magnetic fields on atmospheric escape rates

A debate has arisen in the magnetospheres community in recent years about whether planetary magnetic fields actually inhibit atmospheric loss from planets. On one hand, atmospheric escape rates are driven in part by the strength of the stellar wind, and unmagnetized Venus and Mars both have atmospheric isotope ratios that suggest they have undergone greater atmospheric loss over their history than unmagnetized Earth. On the other hand, the measured ion escape rates from these three planets is the same, to within an order of magnitude.

To resolve this debate, an interdisciplinary team of scientists has come together to construct an interdisciplinary living framework that enables the evaluation of atmospheric loss from an arbitrary rocky planet given information about the planet and the space climate of its host star. The team consists of observers, modelers, and theoreticians from the terrestrial magnetospheric, planetary magnetospheric, and exoplanetary communities. In this presentation we will summarize the progress the team has made after one year of interaction with each other. This progress includes placing escape observations from different planets on a common footing, improving global simulations capable of estimating escape from both magnetized and unmagnetized planets, better understanding the Extreme Ultraviolet output of exoplanet hosting stars, and estimating the atmospheric escape rate from Mars if it orbited an M Dwarf star.


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