NASA just discovered that Mars has a tail, and it's incredibly unusual


NASA's MAVEN spacecraft has found a huge magnetic tail trailing behind Mars.

While the field is invisible to the naked eye, it is said to have taken the form of a rotating tail one that had been formed over time because of the solar winds that have been stripping the planet of its atmosphere, allowing gases to escape into space.

The planet's tail, which is made up of invisible magnetic forces, is unlike anything we know of in the Solar System, and differs from both the magnetic fields of Earth (which is a self-generated barrier) and the magnetic tail of planets like Venus, which have no magnetic fields of their own.

"Our model predicted that magnetic reconnection will cause the Martian magnetotail to twist 45 degrees from what's expected based on the direction of the magnetic field carried by the solar wind". "When we compared those predictions to MAVEN data on the directions of the Martian and solar wind magnetic fields, they were in very good agreement". The process that creates the twisted tail could also allow some of Mars' already thin atmosphere to escape to space, according to the research team.

Key points: #MAVEN is seeing previously unobserved magnetic field variations in the #Martian magnetotail due to magnetic reconnection. Over the next couple of years, NASA plans to explore exactly how significant the impact of magnetic movement is to the Red Planet's atmospheric loss.

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Since Mars contains patches of magnetic field, its magnetotail is somehow different from others.

Researchers suggest that Mars magnetic tail is likely caused by a process known as magnetic reconnection.

The research was funded by the MAVEN mission. MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder.

A new NASA study shows that solar wind - the stream of electrically charged particles that the sun blows out into space - creates a complex electrical environment on Phobos, which could possibly affect astronauts and any scientific equipment brought to the irregularly shaped moon in future missions.

The magnetotail essentially gives these particles a path to follow to flow off the planet, using energy created by the magnetic reconnection - like a stretched rubber band suddenly snapping back into place, NASA said.