Magnetic storms on Mars

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Based on data from the Mars Global Surveyor magnetometer we examine periods of significantly enhanced magnetic disturbances in the martian space environment. Using almost seven years of observations during the maximum and early declining phase of the previous solar cycle the occurrence pattern and typical time profile of such periods is investigated and compared to solar wind measurements at Earth. Typical durations of the events are 20–40h, and there is a tendency for large events to last longer, but a large spread in duration and intensity are found. The large and medium intensity events at Mars are found to occur predominantly in association with interplanetary sector boundaries, with solar wind dynamic pressure enhancements being the most likely interplanetary driver. In addition it is found that, on time scales of months to several years, the dominant cause of global variability of the magnetic field disturbance at Mars is solar wind dynamic pressure variations associated with the eccentricity of the martian orbit around the Sun.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)234-241
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Magnetospheres
  • Magnetic fields
  • Solar wind
  • Mars
  • Atmospheres, Evolution


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