Induced magnetospheres form around conductive non-magnetized planetary objects (such as the ionospheres of Mars, Venus, Titan, Pluto and comets) in the electrodynamic interaction with a magnetized flowing plasma, such as the solar wind. The resulting induced currents couple the ionosphere and the deflected plasma, thus they provide insight into the solar wind’s role in powering the heating, escape and evolution of planetary atmospheres. In contrast to the analogous current systems in intrinsic magnetospheres, which were mapped decades ago at Earth, the current systems of induced magnetospheres are largely unexplored. Here, we use five years of magnetic field measurements from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter to empirically map the current systems of the Martian induced magnetosphere. We find unexpected features, in particular: coupling of the ionosphere and the bow shock, asymmetries between the north–south electric hemispheres and a twist in the near-Mars current system. The current flow pattern in the induced magnetosphere of Mars indicates a system driven by a magnetospheric convective electric field, powered by the solar wind interaction.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
All datasets analysed in this study are publicly available through the NASA Planetary Data System (https://pds.nasa.gov/). MAVEN data are hosted at the Planetary Plasma Interactions node, provided by the University of California, Los Angeles (https://pds-ppi.igpp.ucla.edu/mission/MAVEN/). The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are also available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
Code related to the implementation of methods presented in this study will be provided upon reasonable request to the corresponding author.
Michel, F. C. Solar wind interaction with planetary atmospheres. Rev. Geophys. Space Phys. 9, 427–435 (1971).
Intrilligator, D. S. & Smith, E. J. Mars in the solar wind. J. Geophys. Res. 84, 8427–8435 (1979).
Riedler, W. et al. Magnetic fields near Mars: first results. Nature 341, 604–607 (1989).
Lundin, L. Ion acceleration and outflow from Mars and Venus: an overview. Space Sci. Rev. 162, 309–334 (2011).
Dong, Y. et al. Seasonal variability of Martian ion escape through the plume and tail from MAVEN observations. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 122, 4009–4022 (2017).
Jakosky, B. M. & Phillips, R. J. Mars’ volatile and climate history. Nature 412, 237–244 (2001).
Mangold, N., Baratoux, D., Witasse, O., Encrenaz, T. & Sotin, C. Mars: a small terrestrial planet. Astron. Astrophys. Rev. 24, 15 (2016).
Baumjohann, W., Blanc, M., Fedorov, A. & Glassmeier, K.-H. Current systems in planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres. Space Sci. Rev. 152, 99–134 (2010).
Ramstad, R., Barabash, S., Futaana, Y., Nilsson, H. & Holmström, M. Global Mars–solar wind coupling and ion escape. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 122, 8051–8062 (2017).
Nilsson, H., Barghouti, I. A., Slapak, R., Eriksson, A. I. & André, M. Hot and cold ion outflow: spatial distribution of ion heating. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 117, A11201 (2012).
Li, K. et al. Cold ion outflow modulated by the solar wind energy input and tilt of the geomagnetic dipole. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 122, 10658–10668 (2017).
Arridge, S. A. & Martin, C. J. in Electric Currents in Geospace and Beyond (eds. Keiling, A., Marghitu, O. & Wheatland, M.) 191–205 (Wiley, 2018).
Chapman, S. & Ferraro, V. C. A. A new theory of magnetic storms. Terr. Magn. Atmos. Electr. 36, 77–97 (1931).
Axford, W. I., Petschek, H. E. & Siscoe, G. L. Tail of the magnetosphere. J. Geophys. Res. 7, 1231–1236 (1965).
Volland, H. A semiempirical model of large-scale magnetospheric electric fields. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 78, 171–180 (1973).
Ganushkina, N. Yu., Liemohn, M. W. & Dubyagin, S. Current systems in the the Earth’s magnetosphere. Rev. Geophys. 56, 309–332 (2018).
Cloutier, P. A. & Daniell, R. E. Ionospheric currents induced by solar wind interaction with planetary atmospheres. Planet. Space Sci. 21, 463–474 (1973).
Daniell, R. E. & Cloutier, P. A. Distribution of ionospheric currents induced by the solar wind interaction with Venus. Planet. Space Sci. 25, 621–628 (1977).
Luhmann, J. G. Pervasive large-scale magnetic fields in the Venus nightside ionosphere and their implications. J. Geophys. Res. 97, 6103–6121 (1992).
Acuña, M. H. et al. Magnetic field and plasma observations at Mars: initial results of the Mars Global Surveyor Mission. Science 279, 1676–1680 (1998).
Gringauz, K. I. A comparison of the magnetospheres of Mars, Venus and Earth. Ann. Space Res. 1, 5–24 (1981).
Li, L., Xie, L., Zhang, Y. & Liu, T. Model investigation of current system and influence of the crustal fields on the large scale structure of current sheets at Mars. Planet. Space Sci. 86, 80–85 (2013).
Vernisse, Y., Riousset, J. A., Motschmann, U. & Glassmeier, K. H. Simulations of stellar wind and planetary bodies: ionosphere-rich obstacles in a super-Alfvénic flow. Planet. Space Sci. 137, 64–72 (2017).
Jakosky, B. M. et al. The mars atmosphere and volatile evolution (MAVEN) mission. Space Sci. Rev. 195, 3–48 (2015).
Connerney, J. E. P. et al. The MAVEN magnetic field investigation. Space Sci. Rev. 195, 257–291 (2015).
Dunlop, M. W., Southwood, D. J., Glassmeier, K. H. & Neubauer, F. M. Analysis of multipoint magnetometer data. Adv. Space Phys. 8, 9–10 (1988).
Escoubet, C. P., Fehringer, M. & Goldstein, M. The Cluster mission. Ann. Geophys. 19, 1197–1200 (2001).
Burch, J. L., Moore, T. E., Torbert, R. B. & Giles, B.-L. Magnetospheric multiscale overview and science objectives. Space Sci. Rev. 199, 5–21 (2015).
Dubinin, E. et al. Plasma characteristics of the boundary layer in the Martian magnetosphere. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 101, A12 (1996).
Luhmann, J. G., Ledvina, S. A. & Russell, C. T. Induced magnetospheres. Adv. Space Sci. 33, 1905–1912 (2004).
DiBraccio, G. A. et al. The twisted configuration of the Martian magnetotail: MAVEN observations. Geophys. Res. Lett. 45, 4559–4568 (2018).
Fillingim, M. in Electric Currents in Geospace and Beyond (eds. Keiling, A., Marghitu, O., & Wheatland, M.) 445–458 (Wiley, 2018).
Opgenoorth, H. J. et al. Day-side ionospheric conductivities at Mars. Planet. Space Sci. 58, 1139–1151 (2010).
Dubinin, E. et al. Plasma environment of Mars as observed by simultaneous MEX-ASPERA-3 and MEX-MARSIS observations. J. Geophys. Res. 113, A10217 (2008).
Halekas, J. S. et al. Flows, fields, and forces in the Mars-solar wind interaction. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 122, 11320–11341 (2017).
Lyons, L. R. & Speiser, T. W. Ohm’s law for a current sheet. J. Geophys. Res. 90, 8543–8546 (1985).
Dubinin, E. et al. The effect of solar wind variations on the escape of oxygen ions from Mars through different channels: MAVEN observations. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 122, 11285–11301 (2017).
Chai, L. et al. The induced global looping magnetic field on Mars. Astrophys. J. Lett. 871, L27 (2019).
Chai, L. et al. An induced global magnetic field looping around the magnetotail of Venus. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 121, 688–698 (2016).
Dubinin, E. et al. Toroidal and poloidal magnetic fields at Venus. J. Geophys. Res. 87, 19–29 (2013).
Marquette, M. L. et al. Autocorrelation study of solar wind plasma and IMF properties as measured by the MAVEN spacecraft. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 123, 2493–2512 (2018).
Halekas, J. S. et al. The solar wind ion analyzer for MAVEN. Space Sci. Rev. 195, 125–151 (2015).
McComas, D. J., Spence, H. E., Russell, C. T. & Saunders, M. A. The average magnetic field draping and consistent plasma properties of the Venus magnetotail. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 91, 7939–7953 (1986).
Liemohn, M. W. et al. Ionospheric control of the dawn-dusk asymmetry of the Mars magnetotail current sheet. J. Geophys. Res. Space Phys. 122, 6397–6414 (2017).
Riousset, J. A. et al. Electrodynamics of the Martian dynamo region near magnetic cusps and loops. Geophys. Res. Lett. 41, 1119–1125 (2015).
This study was made possible thanks to NASA’s Mars Exploration Program through their continued support of the MAVEN mission.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Astronomy thanks Matthew Fillingim, Catherine Johnson and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Ramstad, R., Brain, D.A., Dong, Y. et al. The global current systems of the Martian induced magnetosphere. Nat Astron 4, 979–985 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1099-y
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics (2021)
Space Science Reviews (2021)
Space Science Reviews (2021)
The Magnetic Structure of the Subsolar MPB Current Layer From MAVEN Observations: Implications for the Hall Electric Force
Geophysical Research Letters (2020)