Indian scientists from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism have discovered the first evidence of solitary electromagnetic waves on Mars. The findings were recorded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) and were published in the science journal ‘The Astrophysical’. These solitary waves are pulses in the Martian magnetosphere and could affect particle energisation and plasma loss.
Unlike Earth, which has a strong magnetic field to protect it against ionising solar winds from the Sun, Mars only has a weak magnetic field from its crustal magnetic sources. This allows the solar winds to interact with the Martian atmosphere and create solitary flows. While scientists had theorised that these solitary flows and waves could be observed, teams had been unable to detect these waves before.
The team of scientists will now be conducting further studies on how these solitary waves can affect particle energisation in the Martian atmosphere. The researchers will be looking at if solitary waves affect the loss of atmospheric ions on the Martian surface. They will also be studying the shape and size of the waves, as well as their amplitude and phase relations, to better understand their function.
The team also hopes to use their findings to better understand the Martian atmosphere and its interaction with the solar winds. This could help scientists understand the evolution of the Martian atmosphere and the processes of planetary protection. The findings from the study could also improve our understanding of how other planets are affected by solar winds.