First evidence of solitary waves near Mars may decode mystery behind ion loss

Scientists have reported the first evidence of the presence of solitary waves or distinct electric field fluctuations in the Mars’ magnetosphere. The study of these waves is crucial as they directly control particle energisation, plasma loss, transport etc. through wave-particle interactions.

According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, 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, planet Mars does 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 Mars, one can observe frequent occurrences of solitary waves. However, despite several missions to Mars, the presence of solitary waves in the Martian magnetosphere was never reported earlier.

Officials said that 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.

Solitary waves are the distinct electric field fluctuations (bipolar or monopolar) that follow constant amplitude-phase relations. Their shape and size are less affected during their propagation. The magnitude and duration of these pulses are found to be 1-25 milivolt/meter and 0.2–1.7 milliseconds, respectively. These pulses are dominantly seen in the dawn and afternoon-dusk sectors at an altitude of 1000–3500 km around Mars.

20230116-195007

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here