Artist's rendering of a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the planet's upper atmosphere.Credits: NASA/GSFC
Artist's rendering of a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the planet's upper atmosphere.Credits: NASA/GSFC

NASA reveals new exciting information about Mars

NASA recently brought us news of water flowing on Mars, but today it has revealed another slice of "key" information.

Data from its Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which involves a spacecraft which has been circling Mars for the past 12 months, revealed a thick protective atmosphere that allowed Mars to be warm billions of years ago, may have disappeared far earlier than previously thought.

MAVEN data has enabled researchers to determine the rate at which the Martian atmosphere currently is losing gas to space via stripping by the solar wind.

The findings reveal that the erosion of Mars' atmosphere increases significantly during solar storms.

"Mars appears to have had a thick atmosphere warm enough to support liquid water which is a key ingredient and medium for life as we currently know it," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

"Understanding what happened to the Mars atmosphere will inform our knowledge of the dynamics and evolution of any planetary atmosphere. Learning what can cause changes to a planet's environment from one that could host microbes at the surface to one that doesn't is important to know, and is a key question that is being addressed in NASA's journey to Mars."



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