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Magnetized Mars
News story originally written on September 22, 1997

"Mars Global Surveyor has been in orbit for only a few days, yet it already has returned an important discovery about the Red Planet," said Vice President Al Gore. Scientists found a magnetic field surrounding Mars using an instrument on the Mars Surveyor probe. The magnetic field was found on September 15th, just 4 days after Surveyor plunged into Martian orbit.

The Mars Surveyor discovered the outermost boundary of the magnetic field, known as the bow shock (see the image to the left). The Martian magnetic field is weak compared to that of Earth's magnetic field, only 1/800 the strength.

The discovery of Mars' magnetic field is a big success for Surveyor. All systems on the spacecraft are working normally.

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