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11 - Mars' crustal magnetization: a window into the past

from Part III - Mineralogy and Remote Sensing of Rocks, Soil, Dust, and Ices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 December 2009

M. H. Acuña
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics Code 695 Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
G. Kletetschka
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Code 691 Greenbelt, MD, USA
J. E. P. Connerney
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Code 691 Greenbelt, MD, USA
Jim Bell
Cornell University, New York
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Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) discovered intense magnetization in the Mars crust. The planet, which today lacks a dynamo, somehow acquired a crust with at least 10, and perhaps as much as 100 times the volume magnetization intensity of Earth's crust. Interpretation of these data has provided a new and unique window into the origin and evolution of the planet. In this chapter we consider the implications of these discoveries for the understanding of processes that may have led to the minerals and geology that are observed on Mars' surface today. We also include relevant work associated with Earth's magnetic minerals and magnetic and mineralogical characteristics of SNC (SNC – Shergottite, Nakhlite, and Chassignite) meteorites. There is widespread agreement that the Martian dynamo ceased operation within < 500 Myr of accretion and core formation, exposing the atmosphere to erosion by ion-pickup processes in the solar wind for > 4 Gyr. This may constitute an important additional constraint on the minerals and geochemistry observed to date. There is less agreement on whether the magnetic record requires an early era of plate tectonics on Mars. A complete understanding of the crustal magnetic record remains as one of the most significant challenges in Martian geophysical research, one with great potential for understanding not only Mars' evolution but also many aspects of that of the terrestrial planets, asteroids, and the Moon.

The Martian Surface
Composition, Mineralogy and Physical Properties
, pp. 242 - 262
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

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