Orientation and Magnitude of Mars Magnetic Field
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Orientation and Magnitude of Mars' Magnetic Field

September 29, 2003
At each point along the spacecraft trajectory we've drawn vectors in the direction of the magnetic field measured at that instant; the length of the line is scaled to show the relative magnitude of the field. Imagine traveling along with the MGS spacecraft, holding a string with a magnetized needle on one end: this is esentially a compass with a needle that is free to spin in all directions. As you pass over the surface the needle would swing rapidly, first pointing towards the planet and then rotating quickly towards 'up' and back down again. All in a relatively short span of time, say a minute or two, during which time the spacecraft has traveled a couple of hundred miles. You've just passed over one of many 'magnetic anomalies' thus far detected near the surface of Mars.

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