During the MAVEN mission (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution), NASA scientists managed to discover that Mars had a magnetic tail. While this is not something unusual, the properties of this tail make it special, and a unique occurrence in our Solar System. As a result of the extreme solar wind which brushes the planet, its magnetic tail is twisted.
Mars’ magnetic tail is twisted
The Red Planet is not surrounded by a magnetic field, like other planets in the Solar System do. However, it has a magnetosphere, which is the result of the interaction between solar winds and the atmosphere of the planet. This also produces Mars’ magnetic tail, which makes a unique appearance in the Solar System.
Venus, for instance, has a different type of magnetic tail, since it has no magnetosphere whatsoever. Earth, on the other hand, has a magnetosphere, so it has another type of tail. However, Mars’ tail is like neither of these two, as it’s rather a combination of them.
This tail is the product of solar winds and of Mars’ feeble magnetic field
The magnetic tail also has a twist, which makes it stand out. This unique appearance is the result of the magnetic reconnection of the remnants of the planet’s magnetic field and the one present in the solar winds. However, this only happens these two fields are situated opposite from one another. The phenomenon leads to a twist of Mars’ magnetotail at 45 degrees.
Researchers have suspected the odd nature of Mars’ magnetic tail even before. Now, with the MAVEN mission, they finally managed to confirm their theories. Moreover, they also found some other effects of the magnetic reconnection between the planet and solar winds. Mars has some fragile layers in its atmosphere and, whenever the solar winds touch them, they can easily be spread into space.
Image Source: Pixabay