A spacecraft of NASA recently came in orbit around Mars is on the mission of helping to solve a mystery of the red planet.
Scientists at the space agency are using the MAVEN spacecraft for finding out more data about how the atmosphere of the red planet bled molecules out of space over time. NASA also released early results from the probe explaining how the continuous flow of particles coming from the sun, named solar wind, bury more deeply in the atmosphere of the planet than the prior notions by scientists.
“Over the course of the full mission, we’ll be able to fill in this picture and really understand the processes by which the atmosphere changed over time,” Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, said in a statement.
The spacecraft MAVEN started the observations in the middle of the previous months after the commissioning phase held during September which was disturbed for a short period by the Comet Siding Spring which was flying close by Mars. The researchers found it surprising that the spacecraft discovered solar-wind particles in the ionosphere which is a region above the surface of the planet to protect it from solar wind to some extent. It’s roughly 120 to 480 kilometers in size.
These particles which pass through, known as ions, hit the upper atmosphere molecules, making the particles neutral through the interaction, thereby allowing them to enter low altitudes, past the shield. It is an unsolved mystery of how these neutral particles convert into ions again afterwards.
For now, the objective is to chart connections between the upper atmosphere, where the molecules get away and lower reaches of the atmosphere for regulating the climate.