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L.C. Quick (North Carolina State University), M.H. Acuna, J.E.P. Connerney (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
Presently Mars possesses no intrinsic magnetic field; rather its crust exhibits strong remanent magnetization primarily in the Southern Highlands. The deficiency of magnetization surrounding volcanic provinces and impact basins on Mars is attributed to evidence suggesting that the crust gained its magnetic remanence early on via an internal dynamo. This dynamo is believed to have become extinct by the time of the last major impacts. Measurements taken by Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) have been used to create a new map of Mars’ crustal magnetic field. We present an analysis of these data in conjunction with topographical data taken from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) to determine if magnetization in Mars’ southern regions correlates with surface features displayed on topographic maps. MGS and MOLA data were used to identify and study a region of intense magnetic field beneath a 1500 km section of an impact basin in the western hemisphere of the Southern Highlands. In conjunction with the development of models and intensity plots for the radial component of this field, analysis of the possible shape, configuration and composition of the magnetic material beneath the crater was performed. Our models showed that the magnetic signature beneath the impact basin was produced by two adjacent blocks of magnetic material within the Martian crust. We found that the blocks were most likely rectangular in shape and were relatively closely spaced. They also possessed properties similar to those of stainless steel permanent magnets with magnetization directions of -90 degrees, and -45 degrees, respectively. The results of this research will contribute to future studies of Mars, specifically of its present magnetic state, magnetic history, and impact record. This research was made possible via funding from the North Carolina Space Grant Consortium.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.