Rosetta lander measures Mars' magnetic environment around close approach

Feb 26, 2007 byline
Rosetta lander measures Mars' magnetic environment around close approach
This graph, drawn thanks to data collected by the ROMAP instrument on board Rosetta's Philae lander, shows how the magnetic environment of Mars becomes complex when the solar wind, initially proceeding unperturbed at supersonic speed (left of the image), encounters the boundary region of the magnetosphere (bow shock), gets decelerated to subsonic speed and becomes turbulent. The data were collected around closest approach to the Red Planet during the Mars swingby on 25 February 2007. Time is ploted on the horizontal axis versus intensity of the magnetic field on the vertical axis. Credits: ROMAP / Philae / ESA Rosetta

In addition to acquiring incredible images of Mars during the planetary swingby earlier today, Rosetta and its lander Philae continue returning data from the Red Planet. The ROMAP instrument on board Philae measured the intensity of the peculiar magnetic field of Mars around closest approach.

Philae's ROMAP (Rosetta Lander Magnetometer and Plasma Monitor) instrument aims ultimately to study the local magnetic field of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and examine the intensity of the magnetic interaction between the comet and the solar wind in three spatial dimensions ('3D').

The cometary magnetic environment is similar to that of Mars. Mars doesn't have a global planetary magnetic field protecting it from the solar wind. Its complex and 'disturbed' magnetic environment is – in very simplified terms - the result of the combination of the weak magnetosphere surrounding the planet, under continuous attack from the solar wind, with the local magnetic spots (anomalies) that characterise the planet's crust.

The graph presented in this article plots time on the horizontal axis versus intensity of the magnetic field on the vertical axis.
It shows how the magnetic environment of Mars becomes complex when the solar wind, initially proceeding unperturbed at supersonic speed (left of the image), encounters the boundary region of the magnetosphere (bow shock), gets decelerated to subsonic speed and becomes turbulent. The turbulence continues in the ‘tail’ of the planet’s magnetosphere (right of the image).

These measurements are very important as they show how well the ROMAP instrument is performing. This data set is also almost unique, as the trajectory that Rosetta followed during the Mars swingby is very different from those usually followed by other spacecraft orbiting Mars: only the Russian probe Phobos-2 provided a similar insight into the plasma environment around Mars from this special viewpoint in space.

Source: ESA

Explore further: Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A full-spectrum Mars simulation in a box

Apr 18, 2014

There are many reasons why Mars excels at destroying expensive equipment. For one thing, its entire surface is made of partially-magnetized dust. For another, Mars possesses just enough atmosphere so that ...

MAVEN satellite looks for Mars' missing atmosphere

Feb 12, 2014

Ninety kilometers over our heads, the sky is glowing. During the day, the Sun turns the top of our sky into a sea of electrons. They flow over one another without friction, creating plasma. Radio waves that ...

How did early Earth protect itself against the cold?

Feb 07, 2014

Earth's Sun was a weakling when it was younger. Around three or four billion years ago, the star's energy was about 20 percent to 25 percent lower than what's experienced today. If that was still true today, ...

Happy 10th anniversary Opportunity

Jan 23, 2014

Ten years ago, on Jan. 24, 2004, the Opportunity rover landed on a flat plain in the southern highlands of the planet Mars and rolled into an impact crater scientists didn't even know existed. The mission ...

Recommended for you

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

17 hours ago

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

20 hours ago

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

Apr 23, 2014

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

(Phys.org) —Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours ...

Google+ boss leaving the company

The executive credited with bringing the Google+ social network to life is leaving the Internet colossus after playing a key role there for nearly eight years.

Facebook woos journalists with 'FB Newswire'

Facebook launched Thursday FB Newswire, billed as an online trove of real-time information for journalists and newsrooms to mine while reporting on events or crafting stories.