Science

NASA Discoveres Mars Has a Tail

It differs from both the magnetic fields of Earth, which is a self-generated barrier and the magnetic tail of other planets, like Venus, which have no magnetic fields of their own.

Invisible to the naked eye, the so-called "magnetotail" was recently detected by NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission spacecraft (MAVEN).

"We found that Mars' magnetic tail, or magnetotail, is unique in the solar system", DiBraccio said.

The Red Planet is not surrounded by a magnetic field, like other planets in the Solar System do. Instead, it is a hybrid between the two.

As per experts, the twisting is likely due to a process known as 'magnetic reconnection'.

But, this same process may send some of Mars' thin atmosphere flying out to space. That changes today as Google announced Access Mars, which allows you to explore the Red Planet's surface with the same 3D model right from your web browser. However, it has a magnetosphere, which is the result of the interaction between solar winds and the atmosphere of the planet.

The solar winds, made up of electrically conducting gas blown out by the Sun, are thought to have stripped away much of the Martian atmosphere billions of years ago. The link between surface magnetic fields and solar wind fields gives these ions a sort of pathway - along with the magnetotail - to open space.

Scientists say Mars is a mysterious planet and the red planet truly justifies that all the time.

Next, the researchers want to examine readings from instruments on MAVEN besides the magnetometer to confirm that reconnected magnetic fields are indeed contributing to atmospheric loss, and to what extent.

The new findings, revealed in a briefing at the 49th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences in Utah, added further insight into the complex workings of the Martian environment.



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