This video says about itself:
11 April 2017
MAVEN makes first direct detection of the presence of metallic ions in the ionosphere.
Mars has electrically charged high-ion metal atoms in its atmosphere, according to new results from the NASA spacecraft MAVEN.
Metal ions may reveal previously invisible activity in the mysterious atmosphere charged electrically ionosphere of Mars. MAVEN has made the first direct detection of the permanent presence of metal ions in the ionosphere of a planet other than Earth.
Because metal ions have a long shelf life and are transported away from their region of origin by neutral winds and electric fields, they can be used to infer movement in the ionosphere, similar to the way we use a fluted leaf to reveal how the wind is blowing. Grebowsky is the lead author of an article on this research appears April 10 in Geophysical Research Letters.
MAVEN (Mars Environment and volatile Mission Evolution) is exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars to understand how the planet missed most of its air, transforming a world that could have endured a billion years ago life on a cold desert planet today. The understanding of ionospheric activity is shedding light on how the atmosphere of Mars is being lost to space, according to the team.
The metal comes from a constant rain of small meteorites on the red planet. When a high-velocity meteoroid strikes the atmosphere of Mars, it vaporizes. Metal atoms in the vapor wake get some of their electrons pulled out by other atoms and molecules charged in the ionosphere, transforming the metal atoms into electrically charged ions.
MAVEN Detects Metal Ions in Martian Atmosphere
Apr 11, 2017
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission has made the first detection of the continuous presence of iron, magnesium, and sodium ions in the electrically charged upper atmosphere (ionosphere) of the Red Planet.
Sounding rockets, radar and satellite measurements have detected metal ion layers high in the atmosphere above Earth.
There’s also been indirect evidence for metal ions above other planets in our Solar System.
When spacecraft are exploring these worlds from orbit, sometimes their radio signals pass through the planet’s atmosphere on the way to Earth, and sometimes portions of the signal have been blocked.
This has been interpreted as interference from electrons in the ionosphere, some of which are thought to be associated with metal ions.
However, long-term direct detection of the metal ions by MAVEN is the first conclusive evidence that these ions exist on another planet.
“MAVEN has detected iron (Fe+), magnesium (Mg+), and sodium (Na+) ions in the upper atmosphere of Mars over the last two years using its Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer instrument, giving us confidence that the metal ions are a permanent feature,” said Dr. Joseph Grebowsky, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and his colleagues from the United States and UK.
According to the team, the metal comes from a constant rain of tiny meteoroids onto the planet.
When a high-speed meteoroid hits the Martian atmosphere, it vaporizes. Metal atoms in the vapor trail get some of their electrons torn away by other charged atoms and molecules in the ionosphere, transforming the metal atoms into electrically charged ions.
“Observing metal ions on another planet gives us something to compare and contrast with Earth to understand the ionosphere and atmospheric chemistry better,” said Dr. Grebowsky, who is the lead author of a paper on this research published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters on April 10.
“Because metallic ions have long lifetimes and are transported far from their region of origin by neutral winds and electric fields, they can be used to infer motion in the ionosphere, similar to the way we use a lofted leaf to reveal which way the wind is blowing.”
Dr. Grebowsky and co-authors also found that the metal ions behaved differently on Mars than on Earth.
Our planet is surrounded by a global magnetic field generated in its interior, and this magnetic field together with ionospheric winds forces the metal ions into layers.
However, Mars has only local magnetic fields fossilized in certain regions of its crust, and the authors only saw the layers near these areas.
“Elsewhere, the metal ion distributions are totally unlike those observed at Earth,” Dr. Grebowsky said.
Bubbles may put mysterious fizz in [Saturn moon] Titan’s polar sea, by Ashley Yeager. 11:00am, April 18, 2017: here.
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