NASA exploring whether a 'magnetic tail' is destroying Martian atmosphere

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 23, 2017

Phobos orbits incredibly close to Mars, and since it has no atmosphere and no magnetosphere it plows directly through streams of solar wind and absorbs the electrically charged particles on its dayside.

In a development that could offer greater details about the Martian atmosphere, premiere USA space agency NASA has discovered an invisible, twisted magnetic tail trailing behind Mars as it orbits the Sun.

A new discovery by NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission spacecraft (MAVEN) has revealed the remnants of the Red Planet's magnetic field.

The team found that a process called "magnetic reconnection" must have a big role in creating the Martian magnetotail because, if reconnection were occurring, it would put the twist in the tail. "When we compared those predictions to MAVEN data on the directions of the Martian and solar wind magnetic fields, they were in very good agreement".

The solar winds carry their own magnetic fields, and if they hit a region on Mars oriented in the opposite direction, it causes an effect called magnetic reconnection. The tail is twisted by interaction with the solar wind and is unlike anything seen before in our solar system.

Billions of years ago, solar winds made up of electrically conducting gas blown out by the Sun are believed to have stripped away much of the Martian atmosphere. Over the next couple of years, NASA plans to explore exactly how significant the impact of magnetic movement is to the Red Planet's atmospheric loss.

Key points: #MAVEN is seeing previously unobserved magnetic field variations in the #Martian magnetotail due to magnetic reconnection.

Since Mars contains patches of magnetic field, its magnetotail is somehow different from others.

It has been from some time that NASA is launching the virtual reality project for Mars. It could be a complex hybrid between the magnetotail of a planet with no magnetic field and a planet with a magnetic field covering the whole surface.

The research was funded by the MAVEN mission. MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder. The team at NASA were then able to stitch this information together to create a stereo match which then in turn creates the 3D image.

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