To paraphrase Jonathan King (not a sentence we ever thought we’d open a blog post with), everyone’s gone to the Mars. Earlier this week, it was India sending its Mangalyaan mission to the Red Planet. Next, it’s the turn of NASA, which intends to pitch its MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft on a year-long mission to Mars.
MAVEN’s raison d’etre is to help us understand what became of Mars’ historically thick, water-rich atmosphere. One theory is that as the planet’s magnetic field declined due to the planet’s core cooled, solar winds gradually stripped away the atmosphere. What a bummer! Whether that’s the whole story or merely an intriguing sideshow, MAVEN may eventually reveal the cosmic truth.
Click on the graphic for an expanded view.