Data being collected by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) are providing a fascinating and unexpected image of the magnetic field of Mars. Early results from Mario Acuña, principal investigator of the magnetometer experiment, and his coworkers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center showed magnetic stripes over parts of the southern hemisphere evocative of those in the ocean basins on Earth that are caused by the magnetization of new crust generated at spreading ridges in an alternating polarity field. This suggests that plate tectonics may have occurred on Mars, and implies that the Martian dynamo reversed during its short life, which...

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