Indian scientists do a first, find something special on Mars | Tech News

Indian scientists do a first, find something special on Mars

Indian scientists have discovered solitary waves around Mars for the first time.

| Updated on: Jan 16 2023, 21:28 IST
Top NASA tech that solved Mars myths and mysteries like never before
1/10 Humans have been studying Mars for hundred of years. In 1609, Galileo was the first person to peer through a telescope and get a more intimate image of what many could only have dreamed of. (Pixabay)
2/10 An up close and personal view of the red planet emerged as time progressed and so did the capabilities of telescopes. In fact, from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s, many astronomers believed that Mars was home to majestic seas and lush areas of vegetation. The Dark markings on Mars surface were once believed to be caused by vegetation growing and dying. (Pixabay)
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3/10 Some even believed that intelligent life existed on Mars just because of what they saw through their simple telescopes. But that is exactly was science is about-you make educated guesses based on what you know, then change your ideas based on what you learn. (NASA)
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4/10 Now, thanks to new sophisticated equipment and robotic visits to Mars, it turns out they were caused by Martian wind. It was not until the 1960s, when NASA's Mariner missions flew by and snapped pictures of Mars that many of the myths about the red planet were dispelled. (NASA)
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5/10 That does not make Mars any less interesting. The possibility that life actually existed once on Mars is still a distinct possibility. Or it may even be existing on Mars today! No, not in the form of little green men, but on a microbial level. (NASA)
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6/10 Now, taking pictures is great and all. But nothing is better than getting to know the real thing. So, to get a better feel of Mars, Scientists and engineers built some nifty technologies, from spacecrafts to reach Mars and rovers (vehicles) to actually trundle and explore the planet. (NASA/JPL)
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7/10 Among the earliest tech deployed for Mars was Phoenix. It was launched on August 4, 2007 and so began its 9-month long, 681 Million km journey to the legendary red planet. Now, landing on a planet is not as easy as simply dropping a spacecraft onto it. There is actually a lot of steps to the process. (NASA)
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8/10 On May 25, 2008, Phoenix entered Mars atmosphere. It used its heat shield to slow down the high speed entry of 5600 meters per second or around 12500 miles per hour. It released a supersonic PARACHUTE, then detached from its parachute and used its rocket engines to land safely on the planet's surface. Phoenix' landing spot was further north and closer to the ice covered poles than any spacecraft has ever been before. (NASA)
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9/10 Phoenix had two primary goals: One was to study the history of water in the Martian arctic and the other was to search for evidence of a habitual zone and assess the biological potential of the ice soil boundary. And to do that the spacecraft was packed full of gizmos and gadgets to perform all sets of experiments and tests. One of these gizmos was a robotic arm with a shovel attached. It was used to dig up samples of the martian soil for experiments! (NASA)
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10/10 Another top tech on the Mars surface was the Surface Stereo Imager, which is really just a fancy name for the camera. Three surface stereo imagers were Phoenix' eye. Engineers built the device with two optical lenses that would allow for a three dimensional view, just like our eyes. And the SSI sent back some amazing images of the martian landscape. (Source: NASA/Justin Tully) (NASA)
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With the help of NASA’s MAVEN data, Indian scientists detected solitary waves around Mars. (Pixabay)

In a first-of-its-kind discovery, a team of Indian scientists has found the presence of solitary waves around Mars. The discovery was made possible with the help of high-resolution electric field data recorded by Langmuir Probe and Waves instrument on NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) identified these solitary waves on the red planet.

A solitary wave is basically one that propagates without any temporal evolution in shape or size when it is seen in the reference frame moving with the group velocity of the wave. In this case, these solitary waves are distinct electric field fluctuations in the Martian magnetosphere. The researchers analyzed 450 solitary wave pulses observed by the MAVEN spacecraft during its five passes around Mars back in February 2015.

In the case of Earth, researchers believe that Earth is like a magnet, while its magnetic field works as a protective shield from the hazardous and high-speed charged particles which are transmitted from the Sun. But it works differently for Mars, as it doesn't have a magnetic field. This allows solar wind particles to directly impact Mars' atmosphere. So far, researchers believed that planets like Mars with thin magnetosphere can observe frequent occurrences of solitary waves, but sadly, there was no proof yet.

Now, Indian researchers have found that the Martian magnetosphere is highly dynamic and hence, it directly interacts with solar winds. "The ambient plasma conditions suggest that these pulses are quasi-parallel to the ambient magnetic field and can be considered electrostatic. These pulses are dominantly seen in the dawn (5–6 LT) and afternoon-dusk (15–18 LT) sectors at an altitude of 1000–3500 km. The frequencies of these electric field pulses are close to the ion plasma frequency which suggests that their formation is governed by ion dynamic," the research paper explained.

However, the team is still exploring the role of these waves in the particle dynamics in the Martian magnetosphere.

About NASA MAVEN spacecraft

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission is part of NASA's Mars Scout program, launched in November 2013 to explore the Red Planet's upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. According to NASA, scientists use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time. It provides a deep insight into the history of atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability of Mars.

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First Published Date: 16 Jan, 21:28 IST