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Our Glaciers: Then and Now activity kit helps you see the changes taking place in glaciers around the world. See all our activity kits and classroom activities.

Exploratour - The Magnetosphere of Mars

This is a schematic of the Mars Global Surveyor.
Click on image for full size
NASA/JPL

History

For a long time it was thought that Mars, like Venus, had no magnetosphere. The Russians first made measurements which suggested that there was a magnetic field present.

Scientists confirmed the existence of a magnetic field surrounding Mars using the magnetometer aboard the Mars Surveyor probe. The magnetic field was found on September 15, 1997, just 4 days after Surveyor plunged into Martian orbit.

Mars Global Surveyor's magnetometer discovered the outermost boundary of the Martian magnetic field -- known as the bow shock. The polarity of the magnetic field seems to be similar to that of Earth, though the field strength is only 1/800 the strength of the Earth's magnetic field.

All previous Martian missions had left inconclusive evidence regarding the presence of a magnetic field. Now we can be sure that Mars has a magnetosphere!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA