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What Are Solitary Waves?

Focus: GS III: Science and Technology

Why in News? 

Recently, Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has found evidence of “solitary waves” in the weak magnetic field around Mars for the first time.

What are Solitary Waves?

  • Solitary waves are the distinct electric field fluctuations (bipolar or monopolar) that follow constant amplitude-phase relations.
  • Their shape and size are less affected during their propagation.
Significance:
  • Solitary waves have been found to play a significant role in the dynamics of various physical systems, such as in the Earth’s magnetosphere and in the Martian magnetosphere.
  • In the Earth’s magnetosphere, they are known to be responsible for the energization and transport of plasma particles, which can affect the behaviour of satellites and other space-borne equipment.
  • In the Martian magnetosphere, their significance is not fully understood yet, but it has been suggested that they may play a role in the loss of atmospheric ions on Mars.

About Mars

  • Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, being larger than only Mercury.
  • It is named after the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the “Red Planet” due to the iron oxide on its surface that gives it a reddish appearance.
  • Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere and surface features similar to the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth.
  • The days and seasons on Mars are similar to those on Earth because the rotational period and tilt of the rotational axis relative to the ecliptic plane are similar.
  • Mars is home to Olympus Mons, the largest volcano and highest known mountain on any planet in the Solar System, as well as Valles Marineris, one of the largest canyons in the Solar System.

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