Frozen fields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Magnetic fields due to permanent magnetization of planetary crusts and interiors have been clearly detected only for the Earth and Moon. However, they are likely to be a ubiquitous property of silicate and partially silicate objects in the solar system. An indication that this is true is the recent indirect evidence from the Galileo flybys that the asteroids Gaspra and Ida have intrinsic magnetic fields. Lunar paleomagnetism differs substantially from terrestrial paleomagnetism in part because the dominant ferromagnetic carriers are metallic Fe-Ni grains rather than iron oxides such as magnetite. The distribution of metallic iron remanence carriers on the Moon is influenced strongly by impact processes. In addition, large-scale lunar impacts may have produced transient magnetic fields capable of imparting magnetization with or without a former core dynamo. An unresolved issue of lunar paleomagnetism is the origin of swirl-like albedo markings associated with the strongest magnetic anomalies detected from orbit. The interpretation of solar wind magnetic field perturbations during the Gaspra and Ida flybys as due to intrinsic asteroidal magnetic fields has been supported by detailed magnetohydrodynamic simulations. The inferred magnetization limits for Gaspra are consistent with a wide variety of meteorite types and do not allow firm constraints to be imposed on Gaspra's bulk composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-142
Number of pages12
JournalEarth, Moon, and Planets
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jan 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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