High-Resolution Local Crustal Magnetic Field Modeling of the Martian South Pole

Friday, 19 December 2014
Alain Plattner1,2 and Frederik J Simons1, (1)Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States, (2)California State University Fresno, Earth and Environmental Science, Fresno, CA, United States
The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) satellite mission has brought us a wealth of information about the Martian magnetic field. Besides determining that Mars currently does not possess an active core field, MGS revealed that Mars contains an unexpectedly wide crustal magnetic field intensity range. In its orbit insertion, MGS performed a series of low altitude passes down to around 100 km above surface. During this mission phase the magnetic field measurements were active. In particular the nighttime low-altitude data are of high interest because they contain minimal noise from solar wind. Since these data only cover a small portion of the planet's surface, to date all Martian crustal magnetic field models blend the highest-quality data with lower quality measurements collected either at higher satellite altitudes or during daytime. In this contribution we present a locally inverted crustal magnetic field model for the Martian South Polar region calculated from only the highest-quality MGS data using locally constructed altitude vector Slepian functions. The South Polar region of Mars contains the southern part of the strongly magnetized Terra Sirenum and the area south of the Tharsis volcanic highland. Besides parts of planetary scale features our area of data coverage also contains local features such as the presumably volcanic Australe Montes and the Prometheus impact crater. These ingredients compose a highly heterogeneous crustal magnetic field. We show that even for our dense low-altitude low-noise data set the inversion for the crustal magnetic field of a weakly magnetized region adjacent to a region containing a strong magnetic field leads to artifacts in the weak region. With our local method we can avoid these artifacts by selecting subregions of roughly homogeneous field intensity and individually invert for crustal magnetic fields from data within only these subregions. This regional and subregional modeling allows us to reveal previously obscured crustal magnetic field features in this dynamic area. Our approach to overcome artifacts due to regional intensity variations is not limited to the Martian South Pole but can help uncover new crustal magnetic field features for any satellite data set over an area of varying magnetic field intensity.