Death of the Martian Dynamo


Wednesday, June 24 2009 - 6:35 pm, PDT
Robert Lillis
Planetary and Space Physics, UC Berkeley

Unlike Earth, Mars has no global dynamo-driven magnetic field. However, strongly magnetized crust tells us that such a field existed in the past. The reasons for, and timing and manner of, its demise is an important question in Mars science, with ramifications for the evolution of the atmosphere and the stability of liquid water on the Martian surface. Dr. Lillis will explain how mantle convection simulations of the effects of giant impacts, combined with observed magnetic field signatures and crater retention ages of the resulting impact basins, tell us that the dynamo likely died quickly and may have been killed off by the cataclysmic impact resulting in the Utopia basin. 


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