The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) satellite has overcome its mission. As the name it was given suggests, MAVEN was sent to Mars to gather data on Mars’ atmosphere and volatiles. Now, it helped scientists find more about Mars’ magnetic field.
The eternal interest in Mars is whether at some point did or could have hosted life, and MAVEN had an important role here. It didn’t prove it, but it sure brought some excellent information about the Red Planet. And not necessarily about water and breathable air on Mars.
MAVEN collected data that changed the history of Mars as we know it. It was believed, and not just accepted but scientifically proved, that Mars’ magnetic field emerged 4.3 billion years ago, and it stopped to exist some 3.9 billion years ago.
MAVEN Data Revealed that Mars’ Magnetic Field Formed Earlier Than Thought
A new study analyzing data gathered by MAVEN shows that it wasn’t so. That Mars’ internal metallic dynamo, which generated the magnetic field, was formed much earlier and stopped working later than previously thought. It looks like Mars had a magnetic field half a billion years longer.
“We find that the Martian dynamo operated at 4.5 billion and 3.7 billion years ago,” said the first study author Anna Mittelholz, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of British Columbia’s department of earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences.
The data analyzed in the study were the signatures of an ancient magnetic field in the Red Planet’s Lucus Planum lava that showed the former inaccuracy about when the dynamo stopped and the evidence of magnetism found inside Borealis Basin, that confirmed that the dynamo started working 4.5 billion years ago.
It wouldn’t be to first time MAVEN goes beyond its designated mission. In 2018, NASA started altering the MAVEN’s orbit so that it would serve as a communications relay. This plan was the answer NASA came up with since the orbiter for communications relay Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) started failing.