Water may have killed Mars’ magnetic field | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Water may have killed Mars’ magnetic field

Extra hydrogen near the Red Planet’s core could have shut down convection

7:00am, March 27, 2018

DEAD INSIDE  Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field today because something shut off its churning core. A new study suggests waterlocked minerals in the mantle could have provided enough hydrogen to interfere with the convection of the core.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Mars’ missing magnetic field may have drowned in the planet’s core.

An excess of hydrogen, split off from water molecules and stored in the Martian mantle, could have shut down convection, switching the magnetic field off forever, planetary scientist Joseph O’Rourke proposed March 21 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Planetary scientists think magnetic fields are produced by the churning of a planet’s molten iron core. Convection relies on denser materials sinking into the core, and lighter stuff rising to the surface. The movement of iron, which can carry a charge, generates a strong magnetic field that can protect a planet’s atmosphere from being ravaged by solar wind (SN Online: 8/18/17).

But if lighter material, like

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content