ALIEN METAL IN MARTIAN SKY
Metal ions from meteoric dust have been found high in Mars’s atmosphere. The dust vaporises, leaving iron, magnesium and sodium ions in the upper atmosphere, which have been detected by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN). Similar ions are found around Earth, but are kept in check by our planet’s magnetic field. Finding the ions at Mars allows researchers to study the interaction between the patchy Martian magnetic field and the atmosphere.