ESA observations indicate Mars and Venus are surprisingly similar

March 6th, 2008 - 12:43 pm ICT by admin  

Paris, March 6 (ANI): New observations by ESAs (European Space Agency) two spacecrafts have indicated that despite the differences in size and distance from the Sun, Mars and Venus are surprisingly similar.

The observations, which were made by Mars Express and Venus Express, have allowed scientists to make direct comparisons between the two planets.

The results have shown that both planets have beams of electrically charged particles flowing out of their atmospheres. The particles are being accelerated away by interactions with the solar wind, a constant stream of electrically charged particles released by the Sun.

This phenomenon was observed by the two spacecrafts, which probed directly into the magnetic regions behind the planets, which are the predominant channels through which electrically-charged particles escape.

The findings show that the rate of escape rose by ten times on Mars when a solar storm struck in December 2006.

Venuss atmosphere is thick and dense, whereas that of Mars is light and tenuous. Despite the differences, the magnetometer instruments have discovered that the structure of the magnetic fields of both planets is alike.

This is because the density of the ionosphere at 250 km altitude is surprisingly similar, said Tielong Zhang, Principal Investigator for the Venus Express magnetometer instrument.

The ionosphere is the surrounding shell of electrically-charged particles created by the impact of sunlight on the planets upper atmosphere.

By observing the current rates of loss of the two atmospheres, planetary scientists hope that they will be able to turn back the clock and understand what they were like in the past.

These results give us the potential to measure the evolution of planetary climates, said David Brain, Supporting Investigator for plasma physics for Venus Express and Co-Investigator for ASPERA on Mars and Venus Express at the University of California, Berkeley. (ANI)

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