Mars used to have a global magnetic field earlier in the planet’s history – but this was much earlier and then much later than experts previously knew.
First of all, it’s important to note the fact that a planet’s global magnetic field arises from what experts are calling a dynamo – this is a flow of molten metal within the planet’s core that is able to produce an electrical current.
Here on Earth, the dynamo is what makes compass needles point North. Mars‘ dynamo on the other hand, has been exciting for billions and billions of years.
Now, it’s been revealed that there are some new findings from USB researchers who have been working with colleagues in the US and France who have been published on Science Advances.
Experts try to find the prices timing and the duration of Mars’ dynamo
These findings are bringing experts closer to knowing the precise timing and the duration of Mars’ dynamo.
“We find that the Martian dynamo operated at 4.5 billion and 3.7 billion years ago. Dynamo timing is a big part of a planet’s evolution, and what we find is very different from what we have thought so far,” said Anna Mittelholz, first author of the study.
She continued and explained that “The dynamo tells us something about the planet’s thermal history, its evolution, and how it got to where it is today, and it is unique for each of the terrestrial planets—Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury.”
Phys.org notes that clues about the magnetic history of the planet are lying in magnetized rocks on and beneath the surface of the Red Planet.
Rocks are like tape recorders – they begin like lava but as they are cooling and solidifying in the presence of a magnetic field, minerals within the rocks align themselves with the global magnetic field.
When experts are able to date these rocks, they can estimate if a dynamo was active at the time where the rock was emplaced.