Mars Lander reveals strong magnetic fields

Date:9 March 2020 Author: Leila Stein Tags:,

The Mars Lander was sent to the red planet at the end of 2018 on a two-year mission to study the planet’s seismology and interior environment.

The results from the year and a half study have been released in multiple papers.

One of these revealed that the magnetic fields on mars are ten times stronger than expected. The readings from InSight’s magnetic sensor’s from within the shallow crater where the Lander sits provided better readings than had been given by satellites orbiting the planet.

“One of the big unknowns from previous satellite missions was what the magnetization looked like over small areas. By placing the first magnetic sensor at the surface, we have gained valuable new clues about the interior structure and upper atmosphere of Mars that will help us understand how it – and other planets like it – formed,” Catherine Johnson a professor of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia, told UBC News.

“The ground-level data give us a much more sensitive picture of magnetization over smaller areas, and where it’s coming from. In addition to showing that the magnetic field at the landing site was ten times stronger than the satellites anticipated, the data implied it was coming from nearby sources.”

The data provided by InSight has been read in combination with the satellites previously sent to gain data. This helped identify that some of the rocks on the planet are too young, giving no magnetised reading, while those older and deeper in the planet are heavily magnetised.

“We think it’s coming from much older rocks that are buried anywhere from a couple of hundred feet to ten kilometres below ground. We wouldn’t have been able to deduce this without the magnetic data and the geology and seismic information InSight has provided,” said Johnson.

Another interesting data point from the readings is that the magnetic field fluctuates between day and night, with short pulses around midnight.

This study is just one of six from the results from Insight’s first year on the planet, with even more expected once the two-year mission is complete.

Also read: Mars Curiosity Rover finds curious oxygen fluctuations

Image: BradburyCentre/ Twitter

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