Open Access

Ion and electron heating at the Martian bow shock. Common for bow shocks or not?

  • A. Skalsky1, 5Email author,
  • E. M. Dubinin1, 2, 5,
  • A. Petrukovich1,
  • K. Sauer2, 5,
  • P. Kiraly3 and
  • K. Schwingenschuh4
Earth, Planets and Space201450:BF03352115

DOI: 10.1186/BF03352115

Received: 4 August 1997

Accepted: 28 January 1998

Published: 6 June 2014


Two typical bow shock crossings recorded by the Phobos-2 spacecraft in 1989 are considered in the present paper in order to demonstrate that the Martian bow shock is the shock of “common sense” in spite of peculiarities due to the pick-up ions of the Martian origin and their Larmour radius comparable to the scale size of the interaction region between the planet and solar wind. The incident plasma flow is decelerated and plasma species are heated within the relatively thin layer upstream the planet. The observed changes of plasma density, velocity and temperature are comparable with values expected for the MHD shock waves. Moreover, the dynamics of ion and electron energy distributions observed in the shock transition region indicates that mechanisms responsible for the energy dissipation seems to be similar to those operating at the Earth’s bow shock.