NASA announced new discoveries about Mars and the reason it became arid and cold, after being a warm, wet planet, with water flowing through rivers into lakes and oceans.
It was revealed this Thursday that our red neighbor suffered an extreme climate variation over the last 4 billion years, caused by solar winds.
The newest measurements made by the MAVEN – Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution- show that solar winds wiped ions off the upper layers of the Martian atmosphere.
Solar winds are streams of charged particles, continuously emitted by the sun through the solar system. According to NASA, these charged particles removed gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide, elements for understanding the potential for life on Mars.
Another discovery made by the spacecraft is the existence of auroras on Mars, similar to our northern lights.
The MAVEN also found that the dust on the surface of Mars may be of interplanetary origin.
The MAVEN Mission arrived at Mars in September. Its objective is to study the planet’s upper atmosphere, to help elucidate the reasons for the climate change on Mars. Its findings, such as the existence of liquid water, are crucial to understanding the evolution of the planet, and its future habitability.
Image credit:”Mars Hubble” by NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) – http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2001/24/image/a/ (direct link)http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/html/opo0124a.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.