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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

MAVEN Science Nuggets

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Image/Graphic Title/Description Release date Format (Size)
Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances What causes ‘clumping’ in the Martian ionosphere?
MAVEN has revealed that the highly charged Martian ‘ionosphere’ has small-scale pockets where the particle density is either higher or lower than the surroundings. How do these regions form?
July 2020 PNG
(4MB)
MAVEN Observes Time-Shifted Solar Minimum at Mars
MAVEN is observing the influence of solar energetic inputs on the Mars upper atmosphere.

How do solar inputs vary due to both solar cycle and the planet’s eccentric orbit?

April 2020 PNG
(4MB)
Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances MAVEN Reveals Global Wind Patterns in Mars’ Upper Atmosphere
The structure and dynamics of Mars’ upper atmosphere is driven by global wind circulation, which redistributes energy input from the Sun. What are the wind patterns on Mars and what is responsible for developing these patterns?
April 2020 PNG
(4MB)
Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances Why is there so much argon at high altitudes above Mars?
At high altitudes above Mars there is significantly more argon than can be explained solely by heating from sunlight.  How does all that argon get up so high?
January 2020 PNG
(4MB)
New model reveals that electron energy loss near Mars is an illusion
Electrons from the solar wind appear to lose energy as they approach the planet. How does this work?
December 2020 PNG
(4MB)
Mars CO2 Inventory Determined Using Results From Multiple Spacecraft
Geological evidence suggests that Mars was warmer and wetter earlier in its history than it is today.  Was there enough CO2 (an effective greenhouse gas) on early Mars to have contributed significantly to greenhouse warming of the planet, and where did it go?
August 2019 PNG
(4MB)
Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances MAVEN Discovers Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances at Mars
The ionosphere is the region of Mars’ upper atmosphere that contains charged particles. How is the ionosphere affected by atmospheric waves generated in the neutral lower atmosphere of Mars? MAVEN has made the first detection of Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (TIDs) at a planet other than Earth. These measurements provide direct observations of coupling between the lower and upper atmosphere of Mars.
June 24, 2019 PDF
(2 MB)
Homopause Variability The Gateway to the Mars Upper Atmosphere Breathes In and Out
The transition from the middle atmosphere to the upper atmosphere is called the homopause. How does its location vary at Mars?
MAVEN measurements of N2 and Ar density profiles in the upper atmosphere are used to infer the homopause location, below which the atmosphere is turbulent and well mixed and above which molecular diffusion causes the altitude profiles of different species to be independent.
Mar. 14, 2019 PDF (1 MB)
Dayside Reconnection MAVEN Provides First Look at Mars Dayside Magnetic Reconnection
How does the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) from the Sun interact with the crustal magnetic fields at Mars?
MAVEN plasma and fields observations have provided the first comprehensive evidence of magnetic reconnection occurring on the dayside of Mars between the IMF and planetary crustal fields.
Mar. 14, 2019 PDF (2 MB)
Mars Proton Aurora MAVEN Discovers Mars Proton Aurora
MAVEN has discovered bright transient emission from hydrogen in the Mars upper atmosphere. The emission is correlated with abnormally high fluxes of solar wind protons inside the Martian magnetosphere, indicating that a small fraction of incident solar wind protons collide with the Mars extended atmosphere, become neutral hydrogen, and penetrate the magnetosphere to low altitudes. Also, some neutral particles release energy as ultraviolet light.
This represents the first detection of proton-induced aurora at Mars, which are a hallmark of direct energy deposition by the solar wind in the Martian atmosphere.
Nov. 9, 2018 PDF (1 MB)
Mars Boils Over Mars Boils Over
Like water in a pot on a hot stove, the escape of hydrogen from Mars increases from a gentle simmer to a vigorous boil with a tweak of the dial. MAVEN measurements reveal dramatic seasonal variability in hydrogen escape from Mars, which peaks not when Mars is closest to the sun (perihelion) but at southern summer solstice, suggesting a seasonal influence and hinting at a connection to lower atmosphere circulation.
June 8, 2017 PDF (652 KB)
Kelvin-Helmholtz Vortices First 3-D Map of Mars Magnetic Topology
Mars’ intense crustal magnetic sources give rise to complex magnetic fields. These fields either form closed loops (miniature magnetospheres) or connect with the interplanetary magnetic field to form cusps, as in the Earth’s polar regions. The first 3-D map of Mars magnetic topology has been determined from MAVEN SWEA/MAG data.
Apr. 28, 2017 PDF (427 KB)
Kelvin-Helmholtz Vortices Permanent Presence of Meteoritic Metal Ions in Mars’ Upper Atmosphere
Neutral metal ions (including Mg+, Fe+ and Na+), which have been well studied on Earth, have long chemical lifetimes and readily disperse to high altitudes from their production region in the mesosphere, but they have never been directly detected at any other planet. The MAVEN Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) has now provided observations of these neutral metal atoms/ions at Mars for the first time.
Apr. 28, 2017 PDF (130 KB)
Kelvin-Helmholtz Vortices MAVEN discovers Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices at Mars
MAVEN has discovered developing Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) vortices at Mars. This discovery was made possible by the high cadence measurements of the MAVEN particle and field instrument suite’s Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA), Suprathermal and Thermal Ion Composition (STATIC), and the Magnetometer (MAG).
Apr. 28, 2017 PDF (881 KB)
Martian Magnetic Storms Martian Magnetic Storms
Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejections (ICMEs) are known to be responsible for major geomagnetic storms. MAVEN observed an ICME impacting Mars in March 2015. Its in-situ plasma and magnetic field observations were well-described by MHD simulations of the Mars-solar wind interaction.
Apr. 28, 2017 PDF (368 KB)
Mars' Exosphere Mars’ Climate Change: Where Did the Gas from an Early, Thick Atmosphere Go?
The MAVEN argon isotope results tell us that the majority of Mars’ atmospheric gas was lost to space, changing Mars from its early warm, wet climate to the cold, dry planet we see today.
Apr. 28, 2017 PDF (139 KB)
Hydrogen Escape MAVEN Detects Steep Drop in Hydrogen Escape at Mars
MAVEN has detected an unexpectedly precipitous drop in the hydrogen escape rate from Mars over the course of a Mars year.
Jan. 25, 2017 PDF (232 KB)
Dynamic Electrons MAVEN finds dynamic electrons at Mars
MAVEN has observed the dispersal of electrons in the vicinity of strong Martian crustal magnetic fields, similar to processes seen in the global magnetic field at Earth.
May 20, 2016 PDF (6 MB)
Mars ionosphere MAVEN maps the planetary ion fluxes near Mars
The ionosphere of Mars plays a critical role in the loss of atmospheric gases and water to space. MAVEN has provided the first measurements of the composition of the ionosphere of Mars since Viking in 1976. Unlike Viking, which provided measurements at only one time of day, MAVEN has generated the first map of the full day/night structure of the ionosphere.
Dec. 7, 2015 PDF (547 KB)
MAVEN polar plume ions MAVEN Finds Escaping Ions Form “Mohawk” Pattern of Polar Plumes
MAVEN has found that Mars sports a “Mohawk” of escaping atmospheric particles at its poles which may be the major source of gas loss to space.
June 25, 2015 PDF (183 KB)
MAVEN_LPW_dust MAVEN Observes Mysterious Dust Cloud Surrounding Mars
MAVEN observed an unexplained high-altitude dust cloud around Mars. The presence of the dust at orbital altitudes from about 93 miles (150 kilometers) to 190 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface was not predicted. Although the source and composition of the dust are unknown, there is no hazard to MAVEN and other spacecraft orbiting Mars.
March 23, 2015 PDF (282 KB)
IUVS_aurora_2c MAVEN Detects Unexpected Aurora on Mars
MAVEN observed what scientists have named “Christmas lights”. For five days just before Christmas 2014, MAVEN’s IUVS saw a bright ultraviolet auroral glow spanning Mars’ northern hemisphere. The diffuse glow is distributed throughout the northern hemisphere and, unlike previous measurements of aurora on Mars, had no connection to magnetic anomalies.
March 23, 2015 PDF (367 KB)
Siding Spring HLyA_thumb Ultraviolet image of Comet Siding Spring’s Hydrogen Coma
MAVEN obtained this ultraviolet image of hydrogen surrounding comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) on October 17, 2014, two days before the comet’s closest approach to Mars. The IUVS instrument imaged the comet at a distance of 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers). The image shows sunlight that has been scattered by atomic hydrogen, and is shown as blue in this false-color representation.
Jan. 12, 2015 PDF (345 KB)
SEP_nugget Particles and Fields cruise observations
Solar wind data from MAVEN SWIA (J.S. Halekas) and OMNIWeb (N. Papitashvili), SEP fluxes from MAVEN SEP (D. Larson) and ACE EPAM (R. Gold)
July 2, 2014 PDF (287 KB)
MAVEN_First_Mars_Light IUVS cruise observations
IUVS made calibration observations of Mars on May 21, 2014, four months before Mars Orbit Insertion. Despite Mars’ great distance, IUVS detected the planet and obtained a spectrum of Mars’ sunlit disk in the mid-UV range. (more)
June 3, 2014 PDF (108 KB)