Cassini observations over the past ten years have revealed that Titan possesses a chemically complex ionosphere. In this study, we investigate the relative contributions of different ion species to the total ion escape on Titan, by dividing all ion species probed by the Cassini Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) into six groups according to their mass-to-charge ratios (M/Z). For the three lightest ion groups, with characteristic M/Z of 22, 41, and 52 daltons , the observed scale heights tend to be lower than the scale heights predicted by assuming diffusive equilibrium; for the three heavier groups, observed and predicted scale heights are in general agreement, implying that most ion escape from Titan is by relatively light species, with M/Z < 60 daltons. A diffusion model is constructed to describe the density distribution of each ion group in regions where the effect of ionospheric chemistry could be neglected. The data model comparison predicts an optimal total ion escape rate of 3.1×1024 s–1, of which more than 99% is contributed by relatively light ions with M/Z < 32 daltons.
The Martian ionosphere is produced by a number of controlling processes, including solar extreme ultraviolet radiation (EUV) and X-ray ionization, impact ionization by precipitating electrons, and day-to-night transport. This study investigates the structural variability of the Martian ionosphere with the aid of the radio occultation (RO) experiments made on board the recent Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. On the dayside, the RO electron density profiles are described by the superposition of two Chapman models, representing the contributions from both the primary layer and the low-altitude secondary layer. The inferred subsolar peak electron densities and altitudes are 1.24×105 cm–3 and 127 km for the former, and 4.28×104 cm–3 and 97 km for the latter, respectively, in general agreement with previous results appropriate for the low solar activity conditions. Our results strengthen the role of solar EUV and X-ray ionization as the driving source of plasma on the dayside of Mars. Beyond the terminator, a systematic decline in ionospheric total electron content is revealed by the MAVEN RO measurements made from the terminator crossing up to a solar zenith angle of 120°. Such a trend is indicative of day-to-night plasma transport as an important source for the nightside Martian ionosphere.