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