Exploring High-Frequency Plasma Waves in Mars’ Atmosphere: MAVEN Spacecraft Study

Detection of High-Frequency Waves in the Upper Atmosphere of Mars

Plasma waves, which play a crucial role in particle dynamics, are commonly observed around Earth and other celestial bodies. Understanding these waves becomes particularly vital in the absence of a strong magnetic field, as seen on Mars. While Mars lacks its own magnetic field, it possesses a weak induced magnetosphere that interacts with solar wind. A recent investigation, utilizing data from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, unveils the presence of high-frequency plasma waves in the Martian atmosphere.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) utilized MAVEN spacecraft data to analyze high-frequency plasma waves within Mars’ plasma environment. These waves, which may include electron oscillations like Langmuir waves or upper-hybrid type waves, propagate either parallel or perpendicular to the background magnetic field in the Martian magnetosheath region.

The study identified two distinct wave modes occurring below and above the electron plasma frequency, showcasing periodic patchy structures with a periodicity ranging from 8 to 14 milliseconds. This research contributes valuable insights into the dynamic-induced magnetosphere of Mars.

These plasma waves exhibit both novel narrowbands and broadband characteristics, offering a deeper understanding of plasma processes in the Martian plasma environment. The observations were made around 5 LT (local time) on February 9, 2015, as the MAVEN spacecraft crossed the magnetopause boundary and entered the magnetosheath region. The waves observed displayed either broadband or narrowband types, each featuring distinguishable features in the frequency domain, with broadband waves consistently demonstrating periodic patchy structures over a periodicity of 8–14 milliseconds.