New Research May Give Clues Into Mars' History
3.7 Billion years ago, scientists believe that Mars was similar to the Earth we live and breathe on today. But through some sort of monumental change, Mars lost its atmosphere, leaving behind a dead planet, unsuitable for life as we know it. Scientists are beginning to unlock clues as to why Mars lost its atmosphere and surface water, thanks in part to NASA's MAVEN mission which just celebrated its first year in orbit around the red planet.
Scientists have concluded that every second, Mars loses a quarter pound of atmosphere, mainly due to the presence of strong solar winds which sweep the particles off into space. Because of this valuable data, scientists are able to travel through space and time to get a better understanding of Mars' atmospheric history, and gain insight on how habitable to life it once was.
Stephen Bougher, a scientist on the MAVEN team, explained how the new research will help them get a better understanding of what Mars used to look like.
"As you lose hydrogen and oxygen, you'll eventually lose water. As you measure that in the current time and get those loss rates ... you can integrate that loss over time ... and figure out what might be the volume and depth of water covering the whole surface of Mars that might have been lost over its history."
Another element that played a role in Mars' diminishing atmosphere is powerful solar flares, which were able to penetrate the planet's weak magnetic shield. Luckily, Earth's magnetic shield is much stronger than the one present on Mars.
Watch the video below to learn more...