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: NASA deep-space rocket, SLS, to launch in 2018

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Telefonica ups bid to create Brazil's top operator

2 hours ago

Spain's telecommunications company Telefonica has raised its offer to buy Brazilian operator Global Village Telecom, or GVT, from French media conglomerate Vivendi to 7.45 billion euros ($9.82 billion) from 6.7 billion euros ...

Recommended for you

Informing NASA's Asteroid Initiative: A citizen forum

4 hours ago

In its history, the Earth has been repeatedly struck by asteroids, large chunks of rock from space that can cause considerable damage in a collision. Can we—or should we—try to protect Earth from potentially ...

Image: Rosetta's comet looms

10 hours ago

Wow! Rosetta is getting ever-closer to its target comet by the day. This navigation camera shot from Aug. 23 shows that the spacecraft is so close to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that it's difficult to ...

A salty, martian meteorite offers clues to habitability

11 hours ago

Life as we know it requires energy of some sort to survive and thrive. For plants, that source of energy is the Sun. But there are some microbes that can survive using energy from chemical reactions. Some ...

User comments : 0