On Thursday, NASA announced another major finding from their Mars mission regarding the planet’s atmosphere, which is nearly 100 times thinner than Earth’s—consisting of 95 percent carbon dioxide, 2.7 percent nitrogen, 0.13 oxygen, and several minor gases.
Some clarity has been provided to the question scientists have been asking for decades, “Where did the atmosphere and
“The answer is blowing in the wind,” said Michael Meyer, Lead Scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA headquarters in Washington.
Mars’ atmosphere was pushed out by solar wind and the planet lost its ability to protect itself from the sun—likely losing most of its atmospheric gas millions of years ago during major solar activity, as strong winds and radiation eroded the molecules necessary to preserve the planet’s oceans and atmosphere.
The findings come from data obtained by the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft, in orbit around Mars since late September 2014.
It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.
This recent announcement adds to the speculation that Mars looked a lot like Earth at some point in history, and may have even harbored life. Today the planet is cold, but billions of years ago the atmosphere was warm enough for flowing rivers, lakes, and oceans.
This past September, NASA made one of the biggest announcements in the organization’s history: the discovery of
“Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times,” NASA announced in a press release.
“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid
The existence of
Rumors first circulated about the discovery of flowing
“The origin of
Earlier this year, NASA discovered—using infrared telescopes from ground-based observatories—that Mars, one-sixth the size of Earth, once had a body of
In 2012 a team of German researchers at the DLR Planetary Institute simulated planetary conditions of Mars and found that alpine and polar lichens could survive and continue photosynthesis in Mars’ environment. Rumors of life on the planet stem from its similar features to Earth and the discovery of frozen