Mars used to have water. It doesn’t now. New NASA satellite aims to find out why.August 30, 2013 1 Email article | Print article
Science has proven that Mars once had a similar atmosphere to Earth, and that liquid water was plentiful. However, after a period of time, the red planet lost its atmosphere, and scientists are still wondering why this happened. To help figure out this mystery, NASA plans to launch a new satellite called MAVEN to monitor Mars.
Previous experiments lead scientists to believe that Mars lost 99 percent of its atmosphere to space, which is mainly due to the red planet’s core cooling. This eliminated Mars magnetic field, so with no shield to protect the planet, solar winds from space eventually stripped away the planet’s atmosphere.
According to Dave Brain, MAVEN co-investigator. “Think of Mars as a pot of water. You turn the burner on high and get the pot boiling, and then turn the heat down so the water isn’t actively boiling anymore but there’s still steam coming off the pot. After getting into your mini spacecraft, you fly through the steam taking measurements, and from that data you draw conclusions about the water before it boiled.”
MAVEN is expected to take 10 months to hit Mars orbit after its launch on November 18. Furthermore, the satellite will take another 5 weeks to kick itself into observation duty. MAVEN will attempt to help NASA figure out why the core cooling of the planet caused all the water to disappear in just a year, after that, anything is possible if the satellite is fully functional.
Let’s hope NASA release some of the images taken by MAVEN to the public, we’d love to see them. Better yet, show us images of aliens, we’re guessing the world would prefer that.