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Investigating Internal Magnetic Field Sources on the Moon and Mars

Project description

Understanding how Earth’s dynamo works

For billions of years, Earth’s global magnetic field is due to a dynamo within the mostly molten iron in the planet’s interior. How does Earth’s dynamo mechanism work? The answer to this question requires an understanding of how a planetary dynamo operates. The EU-funded SIGMA project will study the crustal magnetic fields of other planetary bodies (Mercury, the Moon and Mars) where different dynamos might have operated. For instance, Mars has large remnant magnetism from an ancient dynamo, and scientists believe the Moon once had a magnetic field based on evidence from magnetised lunar rocks. SIGMA will use a novel methodology of surveys and the generation of advanced models. The findings will be valuable for the field of planetary exploration.


The Earth possesses an internal magnetic field produced by convection movements occurring in the outer liquid metallic core of the planet, called dynamo. In order to understand how the Earth dynamo mechanisms work, it is required to understand how a planetary dynamo operates as a whole, from its birth to its demise. For this purpose, our inner Solar System provides a natural laboratory.
Today, amongst all our companion telluric planets, only Mercury possesses a core magnetic field. Venus has no observable internal magnetic field, which is enigmatic. Crustal magnetic fields are observed at the surface of Mars and the Moon, which is indicative that these bodies likely had a dynamo in their history, but is no longer active. More importantly, these crustal fields hold fundamental information about the ancient core field, such as its morphology, intensity and temporal variation.
By studying the crustal magnetic fields of other planetary bodies, such as Mercury, the Moon or Mars, where different dynamos might have operated, the dynamo processes themselves can be better understood. The SIGMA project targets to unveil crucial unanswered questions of the Earth global magnetic field evolution through an investigation of different planetary crustal anomalies using a novel methodology of surveys (developed by the host) and the generation of advanced models (expertise of the fellow candidate). The results will have an innovative impact in the imminent planetary exploration, where the candidate would be positioned as a senior and independent researcher with a profile comprising theoretical and experimental pioneering techniques.


Net EU contribution
€ 160 932,48
28850 Torrejon De Ardoz Madrid

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Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 160 932,48