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M$^5$ -- Mars Magnetospheric Multipoint Measurement Mission: A multi-spacecraft plasma physics mission to Mars

Cormac J. K. LarkinVille Lund\'enLeonard Schulz ...+12 Marcus Hallmann
Mar 2023
Mars, lacking an intrinsic dynamo, is an ideal laboratory to comparativelystudy induced magnetospheres, which can be found in other terrestrial bodies aswell as comets. Additionally, Mars is of particular interest to furtherexploration due to its loss of habitability by atmospheric escape and possiblefuture human exploration. In this context, we propose the Mars MagnetosphericMultipoint Measurement Mission (M$^5$), a multi-spacecraft mission to study thedynamics and energy transport of the Martian induced magnetospherecomprehensively. Particular focus is dedicated to the largely unexploredmagnetotail region, where signatures of magnetic reconnection have been found.Furthermore, a reliable knowledge of the upstream solar wind conditions isneeded to study the dynamics of the Martian magnetosphere, especially thedifferent dayside boundary regions but also for energy transport phenomena likethe current system and plasma waves. This will aid the study of atmosphericescape processes of planets with induced magnetospheres. In order to resolvethe three-dimensional structures varying both in time and space, multi-pointmeasurements are required. Thus, M$^5$ is a five spacecraft mission, with onesolar wind monitor orbiting Mars in a circular orbit at 5 Martian radii, andfour smaller spacecraft in a tetrahedral configuration orbiting Mars in anelliptical orbit, spanning the far magnetotail up to 6 Mars radii with aperiapsis within the Martian magnetosphere of 1.8 Mars radii. We not onlypresent a detailed assessment of the scientific need for such a mission butalso show the resulting mission and spacecraft design taking into account allaspects of the mission requirements and constraints such as mass, power, andlink budgets. This mission concept was developed during the Alpbach SummerSchool 2022.