Tag Archives: MAVEN

What Mars Looked Like When It Had Water, Courtesy of NASA (Video)

Today, we think of Mars as having  a cold, dry, and desolate environment (because it does).

But that was not always the case. Four billion years ago, while our Sun was still in its infancy, Mars was covered with water.

Back then, it had a much thicker atmosphere, which kept the planet warm enough for water to exist in its liquid form. Some estimates say that at one point, up to 1640 ft (about half a kilometer) of water covered the whole planet.

Many features on the surface of Mars hint at the existence of water in the past. The image above, for example, seems to show the dried-out remnants of a river delta. Click to enlarge

NASA will launch its  Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) on November 18. MAVEN’s job is to determine exactly what happened to Mars’ atmosphere during those four billion years.

In the meantime, they had their Goddard Conceptual Image Lab create a video showing what Mars might’ve looked like four billion years ago and how it changed as the atmosphere thinned out over time:

There are a number of theories as to why Mars’ atmosphere disappeared, including a major asteroid impact and the loss of its magnetic field as a result of solar winds.

NASA hopes that the data collected by MAVEN will help them solve the issue once and for all.

(h/t IFL Science)

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Mission to Mars: NASA’s MAVEN Mission Launches Spacecraft That’s Headed to Mars

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission also known as “MAVEN” launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 a few days ago, launching the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a 5,400-pound spacecraft. The spacecraft was designed and built by Lockheed Martin and they are in charge of mission operations. The spacecraft is scheduled to arrive to Mars in September of 2014.

NASA describes the details of the MAVEN mission. The mission will…

explore the planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatile compounds—such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and water—from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability. The MAVEN Principal Investigator is Dr. Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP), and the project is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.”

Check Out this link for details on the launch. Check Out this link for details on the MAVEN mission.