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Become a nitrogen atom in the nitrogen cycle in our Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit/Game. See all our games, activity kits and classroom activities.
This image illustrates one way in which the magnetometer instrument studies the planet.
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Image from: NASA/JPL

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, as shown in this drawing. A magnetosphere helps protect a planet from the solar wind, however, the Martian magnetosphere may be too small to do that very well. In this picture, MGS can be seen orbiting Mars within the magnetosphere.

The magnetosphere is considered to be the last region of the planet under the influence of the planets gravity and magnetic field, not including the planet's moons. Outside the magnetosphere, the regions of influence of the planet stop. Thus the magnetosphere can be found outside of, but somewhat overlapping the planet's atmosphere. Particles of the atmosphere can sometimes enter the magnetosphere and particles of the magnetosphere can sometimes enter the atmosphere.


Last modified June 3, 2003 by Randy Russell.

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