NASA Makes Major Discovery About Atmosphere On Mars

An Earth-like atmosphere on Mars was once violently stripped away by solar wind, according to new findings from NASA’s ongoing exploration of the red planet.

In a press conference on Thursday, the space agency announced that solar wind played a major role in the disappearance of the red planet’s atmosphere and water — which may hold clues to how the planet evolved and how other planets may interact with their host stars. Solar winds may have not had the same effect on Earth, because of our planet’s strong magnetic fields.

“If you look at Mars today, it’s a cold dry desert planet,” Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, said during the conference. “What happened?… The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”

NASA scientists have been examining and analyzing the upper atmosphere on Mars using the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft.

Watch the announcement live above, and scroll down for the latest comments.

“When we want to learn about life and the potential for life, we have to study the atmosphere, the geology, and the upper atmosphere to learn about the history of the climate and what drove climate change on Mars… Mars appears to meet all of the conditions required for life, or to have met them at the surface in the past, and that begs the question of whether there ever was life there”
Bruce Jakosky, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution principal investigator

Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a magnetic field to shield its atmosphere from solar wind:

— NASA (@NASA) November 5, 2015

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