Space probe helps scientists discover how Mars became so arid

It is very likely that in the past there has been a lot of water running over Mars, and there has been a lot of evidence supporting this possibility. And as space explorer Curiosity continues its mission of scouring the surface of the Red Planet for information on its evolution, another NASA device - the MAVEN spacecraft - has been busy trying to figure out what might have happened to the atmosphere of our planet. neighbor.

Some findings from Curiosity seem to support the theory that billions of years ago there was a vast deep lake where Gale Crater is today. However, for so much water to have existed on the Red Planet, Mars would need to have a dense enough atmosphere for the water cycle to occur - and to prevent all that water from evaporating.

Gale Crater

However, just look at the thousands of images we have of Mars to prove that all the water that probably existed there has somehow disappeared. One of the theories is that this was because the planet's atmosphere began to disappear as well, until it reached the point where it was no longer dense enough to prevent water from disappearing.

Solar wind

According to Nicole Gugliucci of ars technica, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, which is part of a NASA project to analyze the thin atmosphere of Mars, has revealed some very interesting information - allowing scientists speculate about how Mars became such a barren planet.

After traversing the Red Planet's ionosphere - which usually acts as the first line of defense against the solar winds - for clues, data collected by the spacecraft revealed that charged particles from the Sun cross not only this layer of the Martian atmosphere, but more internal layers. also.

And once in the atmosphere, these particles react with the molecules there, helping them to break free from the gravitational action of Mars. To better understand what may have happened on the Red Planet, it is easier to compare with what happens here on Earth. Our planet also has an ionosphere that helps protect the surface from the action of the solar winds, as well as a magnetic field to complement the defense.

Earth x Mars

The earth's magnetic field - produced by the movement of molten metals present beneath the planet's crust - helps carry charged particles from the solar winds to the Earth's poles, and this action manifests itself in the form of northern and southern auroras. However, it was not enough that these particles could penetrate the ionosphere of Mars, unlike Earth, the Red Planet no longer has a magnetic field.

Mars no longer has a superhuman core like Earth's, so the Red Planet no longer has a magnetic field to help it defend itself from charged particles from the Sun. Also, being smaller than our planet Mars produces less powerful gravity, which also did not help "hold" our neighbor's atmosphere in place.

Of course, all of these theories are nothing but speculation, and NASA scientists will still have to evaluate a lot of data collected by the various spacecraft and spacecraft roaming around - and around - Mars to unravel how the planet's evolutionary process took place. Therefore, we will have to wait for more news in the future.