What is a Solitary Wave?

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What is a Solitary Wave? Blog Image


A research team from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has recently identified and reported the solitary waves in the Martian magnetosphere.

Why in news?

  • With the help of high-resolution electric field data recorded by the Langmuir Probe and Waves instrument on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft of NASA researchers identified the solitary waves.

Key facts about the Solitary wave

  • Solitary waves are distinct electric field fluctuations (bipolar or monopolar) that follow constant amplitude-phase relations. 
  • Their shape and size are less affected during their propagation. 
  • The magnitude and duration of these pulses are found to be 1-25 milivolt/meter and 0.2–1.7 milliseconds, respectively. 
  • These pulses are dominantly seen in the dawn and afternoon dusk sectors at an altitude of 1000–3500 km around Mars.
  • Through simulations, it is found that the spatial extent of these structures is very small (30-330 meters). As these waves are known to be responsible for the plasma energization and its transport in Earth’s magnetosphere

What is MAVEN spacecraft?

  • The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which launched in 2013.
  • It is the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere.
  • The goal of this spacecraft is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time


Q1) What is Geomagnetism?

Geomagnetism is the study of all aspects of the Earth's magnetic field, also called the geomagnetic field, that surrounds our habitat in the form of the magnetosphere. Source: 

Source: The first evidence of solitary waves near Mars may decode the mystery behind ion loss on the planet.