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Plasma waves in the Martian Atmosphere

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: PIB

 Context: Scientists, including researchers from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), have detected high-frequency plasma waves in the Martian Upper Atmosphere using data from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft.

 

What are Plasma Waves?

Plasma waves are short-time scale fluctuations in the electric and magnetic fields observed in plasmas, which are ionized gases consisting of positively charged ions and free electrons.

 

How does it help understand planetary phenomena?

In the context of planetary atmospheres, such as Mars, understanding the presence and characteristics of plasma waves helps scientists gain insights into the interactions between the solar wind and the planet’s atmosphere, especially in the absence of an intrinsic magnetic field. Unlike Earth, Mars lacks an intrinsic magnetic field, causing direct interaction between high-speed solar wind from the Sun and the Martian atmosphere.

 

About MAVEN orbiter:

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft (launched in 2013 by NASA), is dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interactions with the sun and solar wind. The mission aims to uncover the history of Mars’ atmosphere, climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability by examining the role of volatiles loss to space over time.