NASA MAVEN probe finds layers and cracks in Mars ionosphere

NASA has had the MAVEN probe orbit Mars for a long time and is now studying the red planet in detail. NASA reported that the MAVEN probe found “layers” and “cracks” in the charged part of The Martian upper atmosphere (ionospheric). This phenomenon is very common on Earth and causes unpredictable interruptions in radio communications.

Scientists don’t fully understand this phenomenon because they form at very difficult heights on Earth to explore. Accidental discoveries of layers and cracks on Mars have allowed scientists to explore and better understand these phenomena. NASA says its favorite radio station has been blocked or replaced by another station, most likely caused by a charged plasma layer at the top of the ionosphere. These layers suddenly form and last for hours, like giant mirrors. They cause distant radio signals to bounce over the horizon, disrupting local transmission.

These layers may also interfere with radio communications of aircraft and ships and may blind military radars. On Earth, from an altitude of about 60 miles, the air is too thin for the plane to fly. At the same time, the atmosphere is too thick to operate there by any satellite. The area can only be reached by rocket, but the mission is limited to a few minutes.

On Mars, the MAVEN probe can orbit at a lower altitude and can directly sample features. An instrument of the MAVEN probe recently detected a sudden spike in large amounts of plasma as MAVEN flew in the atmosphere. So far, MAVEN detectors have found that these layers also have “mirror opposite” cracks, where the plasma is not very rich. Studying Mars will help scientists understand phenomena on Earth.

NASA MAVEN probe finds layers and cracks in Mars ionosphere