Helicopters can map Mars’ magnetic field

Mars, unlike Earth, does not have a global magnetic field. However, certain areas of the planet’s surface may have it. Scientists suggest using automatic helicopters like Ingenuity to map them.

Mars’ magnetic field. Source: www.space.com

Magnetic field on Mars

While the Ingenuity helicopter continues to fly over Mars, setting one record after another, scientists suggest sending other similar vehicles there. Their task is to map the magnetic fields of the red planet.

In fact, Mars, like the Moon, does not have a global magnetic field. This means that the compass simply does not work on it. This is very different from the Earth and, for example, Mercury, which have such a field.

But this does not mean that there are no magnetic fields on Mars at all. Some areas of the surface have local fields. This fact was repeatedly confirmed by the Mars Global Surveyor, Mars AtmSphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN), and Tianwen-1 spacecraft operating in the orbit of the planet, as well as the InSight probe, which until recently was on its surface.

Why do scientists want to use helicopters?

In fact, there are several reasons why certain areas of Mars could acquire their own magnetic field. The researchers who proposed the project point to at least three possible scenarios. Firstly, a magnetic field can be observed over a meteorite crater, and formed as a result of thermal heating during impact.

Secondly, these may be separate magnetized layers of the planet’s crust. Thirdly –  magma frozen in cracks. In any case, not static but dynamic studies are needed to find out exactly what researchers are dealing with in this case. 

And here, research carried out in flight but not on the surface can be useful. At least, this is indicated by the data collected by the vehicles that are already working on Mars. In addition, they will be able to look deeper under the crust of the planet and establish the history of its magnetic field.

Actually, it was on Mars once. Billions of years ago, its core was hot and worked like a dynamo. However, since then, it has managed to cool down, and scientists are not completely sure when it happened. Perhaps the liquid lava was stored somewhere under the surface for a long time, and this could lead to the magnetization of certain areas of the crust.

The question of this is extremely important, given that people will have to fly to Mars sometime. But they will be unprotected from solar radiation. After all, the magnetic field is responsible for protecting against it on Earth.

According to phys.org

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