This is an artist's drawing of the process that creates alternating magnetic bands in the crust of a planet. The red in the picture is north and blue is south.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
Scientists Have Found Ancient Mars to be Like Earth
News story originally written on May 10, 1999
Scientists have found new evidence supporting a theory that
was similar to our current Earth. Using a magnetometer,
NASA's Mars Global Surveyor
is finding magnetic field patterns on Mars'
surface. These bands are frozen in the planet's crust, carrying a
record of the changes which occurred over the past millions of years.
"The Discovery of this pattern on Mars could revolutionize current
thinking of the red planet's evolution," said Dr. Jack Connerney of NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.
On Earth, the magnetic field lines randomly alternate their flow
between the north and south poles. Each time they switch, the bands are
frozen in solidified molten rock that escaped from the Earth's crust. This
same pattern was found on Mars, and will be used to study the early
development of the red planet.
The new findings may also explain the physical differences between
the northern lowlands and the southern highlands on Mars. Evidence shows that the
rather smooth lowlands are free of magnetic field lines, while the
rough highlands reveal several lines.
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