Scientists from Umeå University and the Swedish Institute for Cosmic Physics in Kiruna conducted a study that discovered jet currents in the Mars magnetosphere. This phenomenon was previously recorded only on Earth, so the new discovery represents an important step in understanding the mechanism of the Mars magnetosphere.
The magnetosphere is the part of the space around the planet where the behavior of the surrounding plasma is determined by its own magnetic field. It is the area where the solar wind is forced around the planet. On Earth, reactive flows in the magnetosphere have been observed for 25 years, but on Mars this phenomenon was recorded for the first time thanks to the MAVEN spacecraft, which has been in orbit around Mars since 2014.
Interestingly, no planet other than Earth has ever been able to detect jet currents in the magnetosphere. Mars was the first extraterrestrial body where this phenomenon was recorded. It was possible to do it with the help of “Earth technology”, which scientists applied to study the magnetosphere of Mars.
The magnetosphere on Mars is much smaller than on Earth, as Mars is smaller than Earth and has no global magnetic field. However, observations have shown that these jets generate waves and can travel through the entire magnetosphere and go even further, into the region of stronger magnetic fields.
The next step for the researchers will be to try to find out what role these jets play in the mechanism of interaction between Mars and the solar wind. The new study opens new perspectives for understanding the Mars magnetosphere and its interaction with the surrounding space.