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Solitary Waves in Mars
News: Recently, Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has found evidence of 'solitary waves' in the weak magnetic field around Mars for the first time.
• Scientists used high-resolution electric field data from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft to make the discovery of solitary waves.
What are Solitary Waves?
• Solitary waves are the distinct electric field fluctuations (bipolar or monopolar) that follow constant amplitude-phase relations. Their shape and size are less affected during their propagation.
• Solitary waves have been found to play a significant role in the dynamics of various physical systems, such as in the Earth's magnetosphere and in the Martian magnetosphere.
• In the Earth's magnetosphere, they are known to be responsible for the energization and transport of plasma particles, which can affect the behavior of satellites and other space-borne equipment.
• In the Martian magnetosphere, their significance is not fully understood yet, but it has been suggested that they may play a role in the loss of atmospheric ions on Mars.
• Unlike Earth, the planet Mars does not have any intrinsic magnetic field. This allows the high-speed solar wind to interact directly with the Mars atmosphere, like an obstacle in flow. It has been suggested that even in a weak and thin magnetosphere as that of Mars, frequent occurrences of solitary waves can be observed.
• Despite several missions to Mars, the presence of solitary waves in the Martian magnetosphere has never been reported earlier. The exact cause is yet to be known.