Electron density is a key parameter to characterize Martian ionospheric structure and dynamics. Based on the ephemeris and auxiliary information derived from the Spacecraft, Planet, Instruments, C-matrix, and Events (SPICE) toolkit, we calculated the bending angle of signal path from the frequency residuals measured by the Mars Express Radio Science Experiment (MaRS) of the Mars Express (MEX) mission under the assumption of a spherically symmetric ionosphere. We stratified the ionosphere into layers and assumed a linear change of bending angle between layers, to derive profiles in radial distance of refractivity with the optimized parameters of upper integral limit of 4890 km and baseline correction boundary of 3690 km. Meanwhile, we also compared the retrieved electron density profiles between the frequency residuals of the single-frequency and differential Doppler of the dual-frequency. In total, ~640 electron density profiles of Martian ionosphere between April 2004 and April 2015 were retrieved successfully. There are 24 profiles identified manually that exhibit an additional sporadic layer occurrence below the normal two-layers. We also found that the peak altitude of this layer increases with the main peak altitude.
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.