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Jet streams detected around Mars –

Jet streams detected around Mars –

The magnetospheric jet is a mass of plasma flowing into the magnetosphere, the part of space where the solar wind is forced to flow around a planet. It stands out by being faster or more massive than its surroundings.

In a study, a research team from Umeå University and the Institute of Space Physics in Kiruna investigated whether jet streams exist in the magnetic layer around Mars.

– Jet streams have been seen in the magnetosphere near Earth for 25 years and we were really curious if they could be found elsewhere, says researcher Herbert Gunnell from Umea University.

A spacecraft exploring the Martian atmosphere

The researchers used data collected by NASA’s Maven spacecraft, which has been in orbit around Mars since 2014. The spacecraft studies the planet’s atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind.

– Before MAVEN, we only had satellites around the Earth with instruments fast enough to detect aircraft. But it was not clear that we would find them on Mars, because there are important differences between the two planets.

One difference is that Mars is smaller than Earth and lacks a global magnetic field, which means that the magnetic layer on Mars is much smaller than that on Earth.

Despite the differences, we now know that even Mars has magnetospheric jets, says Herbert Gunnell.

What are those planes doing on Mars?

– We’ve already seen that magnetospheric jets generate waves and can move through the entire magnetosphere and to the region with the strongest magnetic fields at the bottom. We just discovered that they exist on Mars, and it will be exciting to learn more about them and what role they play in the interaction between Mars and the solar wind.

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Magnetosheath jets on MarsAnd Science advances.


Herbert Gunell, Lecturer, Department of Physics, Umeå University, [email protected]