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Solitary Wave in Martian Magnetosphere

  • 18 Jan 2023
  • 4 min read

Why in News? 

Recently, Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has found evidence of "solitary waves" in the weak magnetic field around Mars for the first time.

  • Scientists used high-resolution electric field data from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft to make the discovery of solitary waves.

What are the Key Highlights of the Discovery?

  • Unlike Earth, the 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, frequent occurrences of solitary waves can be observed.
  • However, despite several missions to Mars, the presence of solitary waves in the Martian magnetosphere has never been reported earlier.
  • The waves were found mostly in the morning and evening on Mars, at altitudes of 1000-3500 km, and their exact cause is still unknown.

What are Solitary Waves?

  • About:
    • 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.
  • Significance:
    • Solitary waves have been found to play a significant role in the dynamics of various physical systems, such as in the Earth's magnetosphere and in the Martian magnetosphere.
      • In the Earth's magnetosphere, they are known to be responsible for the energization and transport of plasma particles, which can affect the behaviour of satellites and other space-borne equipment.
      • In the Martian magnetosphere, their significance is not fully understood yet, but it has been suggested that they may play a role in the loss of atmospheric ions on Mars.

What are the Key Points Related to Mars?

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. Consider the following statements: (2016)

The Mangalyaan launched by ISRO

  1. is also called the Mars Orbiter Mission
  2. made India the second country to have a spacecraft orbit the Mars after USA
  3. made India the only country to be successful in making its spacecraft orbit the Mars in its very first attempt

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (c)

Source: PIB

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