SOLITARY WAVES NEAR MARS
17th January, 2023 Science and Technology
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- Scientists have reported the first evidence of the presence of solitary waves or distinct electric field fluctuations in the Martian magnetosphere. The study of these waves is crucial as they directly control particle energization, plasma loss, transport, etc., through wave-particle interactions.
- Our Earth is a giant magnet, and its magnetic field protects us from high-speed charged particles that are continuously emitted from the Sun in the form of solar wind.
- Unlike Earth, the planet Mars do not have any intrinsic magnetic field. This allows the high-speed solar wind to interact directly with the Mars atmosphere, like an obstacle in flow. It has been suggested that even in a weak and thin magnetosphere as that of the Mars, one can observe frequent occurrences of solitary waves.
- However, despite several missions to Mars, the presence of solitary waves in the Martian magnetosphere has never been reported earlier.
- For the first time, a research team from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has identified and reported the solitary waves in the Martian magnetosphere with the help of high-resolution electric field data recorded by Langmuir Probe and Waves instrument on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft of NASA.
- The magnetosphere is weak but highly dynamic and formed due to the direct interaction of solar winds with the Martian atmosphere.
- As these waves are known to be responsible for the plasma energization and its transport in Earth’s magnetosphere, the team is further exploring their role in the particle dynamics in the Martian magnetosphere and whether such waves play any role in the loss of atmospheric ions on the Mars.
All about Mars:
- Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the size of Earth. Mars is sometimes called the Red Planet. It's red because of rusty iron in the ground.
- Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. It has a very thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.
- There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds. On some Martian hillsides, there is evidence of liquid salty water in the ground.
- Scientists want to know if Mars may have had living things in the past. They also want to know if Mars could support life now or in the future.
Structure and Surface:
- Mars is a terrestrial planet. It is small and rocky.
- Mars has a thin atmosphere.
- Mars has an active atmosphere, but the surface of the planet is not active. Its volcanoes are dead.
Time on Mars:
- One day on Mars lasts 24.6 hours. It is just a little longer than a day on Earth.
- One year on Mars is 687 Earth days. It is almost twice as long as one year on Earth.
- Mars has two moons. Their names are Phobos and Deimos.
- Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. That means Earth and Jupiter are Mars’ neighboring planets.
- Mars has been known since ancient times because it can be seen without advanced telescopes.
- Several missions have visited Mars. And Mars is the only planet we have sent rovers to. They drive around Mars, taking pictures and measurements.