Magnetic Field Observations near Venus: Preliminary Results from Mariner 10

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Science  29 Mar 1974:
Vol. 183, Issue 4131, pp. 1301-1306
DOI: 10.1126/science.183.4131.1301


The NASA-GSFC magnetic field experiment on Mariner 10 is the first flight of a dual magnetometer system conceived to permit accurate measurements of weak magnetic fields in space in the presence of a significant and variable spacecraft magnetic field. Results from a preliminary analysis of a limted data set are summarized in this report, which is restricted primarily to Venus encounter. A detached bow shock wave that develops as the super Alfvénic solar wind interacts with the Venusian atmosphere has been observed. However, the unique coincidence of trajectory position and interplanetary field orientation at the time of bow shock crossing led to a very disturbed shock profile with considerably enhanced upstream magnetic fluctuations. At present it is not possible to ascertain the nature and characteristics of the obstacle responsible for deflecting the solar wind flow. Far downstream disturbances associated with the solar wind wake have been observed.