MAVEN: What let the air out of Mars?

NASA announced another baby step in our understanding of the universe this week when an analysis of data from MAVEN revealed that solar wind was responsible for the loss of atmosphere on the planet Mars.

The probe which is MAVEN (or the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) launched in 2013. As long as a school bus at thirty seven and a half feet, and weighing as much as a fully loaded SUV at 5,450 pounds, MAVEN has six instruments which track the interaction of solar wind with Mars.

Maven0004NASA’s conclusion after a year’s worth of data is that a once thick, capable-of-life-sustaining atmosphere eroded into its current thin emaciated remnant by what NASA called the “extreme space weather” caused by solar wind.

NASA has created a great video representation of the erosion of the atmosphere (see link).

Now that we understand the process, it is inevitable that someone will want to find a way to reverse it, or prevent it. Its not hard to imagine a thousand years from now the then current manifestation of a real estate developer taking on planetary transformations.

Think Donald Trump circa 3015 saying “This is huge”.