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High-frequency waves detected in the Martian Upper Atmosphere could help understand plasma processes over Mars

  • Category
    Geography
  • Published
    13th Jan, 2024

Context

Insights from MAVEN

  • Detection of high-frequency plasma waves in the Martian upper atmosphere.
  • Novel narrowband and broadband features provide insights into plasma processes.

Understanding Plasma Waves:

  • Plasma waves observed in Earth's magnetosphere play a crucial role in particle energization and transport.
  • Electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves act as a cleaning agent for Earth's radiation belt.

Mars: An Unmagnetized Planet:

  • Mars lacks an intrinsic magnetic field, leading to direct interaction with high-speed solar wind from the Sun.
  • Researchers aim to understand the existence of various plasma waves in the Martian plasma environment.

Research at Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG):

  • IIG researchers use high-resolution electric field data from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft.
  • MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) provides valuable data on the Martian plasma environment.

Distinct Wave Modes at Martian Magnetosphere:

  • Two wave modes identified with frequencies below and above the electron plasma frequency.
  • Observations made around 5 LT on February 9, 2015, when MAVEN crossed the magnetopause boundary.

Broadband and Narrowband Wave Features:

  • Broadband waves exhibit periodic patchy structures with a periodicity of 8–14 milliseconds.
  • Distinguishable features observed in the frequency domain for both broadband and narrowband waves.

Significance of Observations:

  • Waves provide a tool to explore electron energy gain or dissipation in the Martian plasma environment.
  • Broadband-type wave generation and modulation mechanisms remain unexplained, requiring further investigation.

International Collaboration:

  • Research conducted by IIG scientists in collaboration with counterparts from Japan, USA, and UAE.
  • Findings published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics Journal.

Implications for Future Exploration:

  • Understanding plasma waves enhances knowledge of Martian atmospheric dynamics.
  • MAVEN's contributions crucial for ongoing and future missions exploring Mars.

Way Forward:

  • Detection of high-frequency plasma waves in the Martian upper atmosphere contributes to advancing our understanding of planetary plasma environments.
  • Ongoing collaboration and further research are essential for unraveling the mysteries of Martian magnetospheric dynamics.

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