Shop Windows to the Universe

Hands On Mineral Identification helps you to identify over 14,500 minerals! By M. Darby Dyar, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
This image illustrates Mars Global Surveyor studying the planet.
Click on image for full size
Image from: NASA/JPL

The Martian Ionosphere

The Martian ionosphere is a layer of gas that is very high up above Mars and is composed of ions and electrons. It extends from about 75 miles up to several hundred miles up above the surface. It is shown by the shaded region circling the planet in this drawing. Temperatures in this region are very hot. This region may have a complicated interaction with the Martian magnetosphere, which is a region of Mars which is next door to the ionosphere. Unlike the Earth's ionosphere, the Martian ionosphere is not shielded from the solar wind by a strong planetary magnetic field. New measurements by Mars Global Surveyor show that the magnetic field of Mars is weak.

Measurements by Mars Global Surveyor will help scientists study Mars' ionosphere and compare it with those of Earth and Venus. The ionosphere of Mars was even used to help brake the spacecraft and place it into a circular orbit.


Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

The Martian Magnetosphere

An important new result from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission is the definite confirmation of the presence of a magnetic field near Mars. The magnetic field leads to the formation of a magnetosphere,...more

Magnetosphere

A magnetosphere has many parts, such as the bow shock, magnetosheath, magnetotail, plasmasheet, lobes, plasmasphere, radiation belts and many electric currents. It is composed of charged particles and...more

Mars Global Surveyor Magnetometer findings

An important new result from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission is the definite confirmation of the presence of a magnetosphere around Mars. Previous missions did not make really good measurements...more

Aerobraking

The Mars Global Surveyor reached Mars in September of 1997. But it didn't make it into its final mapping orbit until February 1999. What took so long? Surveyor needed to reach a near-circular, low-altitude...more

Martian Clouds

Unlike the Earth, where clouds are found around the entire globe, on Mars, clouds seem to be plentiful only in the equatorial region, as shown in this Hubble telescope image. This may be because water...more

The Martian Ionosphere

The Martian ionosphere is a layer of gas that is very high up above Mars and is composed of ions and electrons. It extends from about 75 miles up to several hundred miles up above the surface. It is shown...more

Mars Odyssey

The Mars Odyssey was launched April 7, 2001, from Florida. After a six-month, 285 million-mile journey, the Odyssey arrived at Mars on October 24, 2001. The Odyssey is in its aerobraking phase right now....more

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