Photoelectrons are produced by solar Extreme Ultraviolet radiation and contribute significantly to the local ionization and heat balances in planetary upper atmospheres. When the effect of transport is negligible, the photoelectron energy distribution is controlled by a balance between local production and loss, a condition usually referred to as local energy degradation. In this study, we examine such a condition for photoelectrons near Mars, with the aid of a multi-instrument Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution data set gathered over the inbound portions of a representative dayside MAVEN orbit. Various photoelectron production and loss processes considered here include primary and secondary ionization, inelastic collisions with atmospheric neutrals associated with both excitation and ionization, as well as Coulomb collisions with ionospheric thermal electrons. Our calculations indicate that photoelectron production occurs mainly via primary ionization and degradation from higher energy states during inelastic collisions; photoelectron loss appears to occur almost exclusively via degradation towards lower energy states via inelastic collisions above 10 eV, but the effect of Coulomb collisions becomes important at lower energies. Over the energy range of 30–55 eV (chosen to reduce the influence of the uncertainty in spacecraft charging), we find that the condition of local energy degradation is very well satisfied for dayside photoelectrons from 160 to 250 km. No evidence of photoelectron transport is present over this energy range.
Magnetosonic (MS) waves are believed to have the ability to affect the dynamics of ring current protons both inside and outside the plasmasphere. However, previous studies have focused primarily on the effect of high-frequency MS waves (f > 20 Hz) on ring current protons. In this study, we investigate interactions between ring current protons and low-frequency MS waves (< 20 Hz) inside the plasmasphere. We find that low-frequency MS waves can effectively accelerate < 20 keV ring current protons on time scales from several hours to a day, and their scattering efficiency is comparable to that due to high-frequency MS waves (>20 Hz), from which we infer that omitting the effect of low-frequency MS waves will considerably underestimate proton depletion at middle pitch angles and proton enhancement at large pitch angles. Therefore, ring current proton modeling should take into account the effects of both low- and high-frequency MS waves.