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This image shows vertical bands of maroon crisscrossed by bright white streaks here and there. The vertical swaths correspond to changes in martian longitude (x-axis) and latitude (y-axis).
Full Res JPG (580 kB)

Leaky Protection on Mars

If you were on Mars, you'd have to watch out for zaps of cosmic rays from the sun! Unlike Earth, which has a global magnetic field that protects us, Mars has small, local magnetic fields.

For the first time on Mars, scientists have mapped electrons, seen here as bright spots and streaks, in the highest, thinnest part of the night-side atmosphere, where they cluster around small, protected areas. Future human explorers beware! Like smashed pieces of pottery, between them are "cracks" in the shield (dark maroon) that allow solar and cosmic radiation to reach the surface.

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Credit: ASI/NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/Laboratoire de Planetologie de Grenoble, CNRS, France/Univ. of Rome "La Sapienza"/Univ. of Iowa/ ESA Mars Express orbiter, Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument

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