Solar Winds Dissipated Mars’ Atmosphere

Mars 4 billion years ago

Mars lost its atmosphere because of harsh solar particles

A team of researchers claims to have found the answer of one of the most mysterious questions that has been keeping astronomers awake. They suggest that they have discovered how Mars turned into a planet which cannot sustain life. It might be the solar winds which rid the Red Planet of its atmosphere and made it into a dry and cold mass.

Solar particles are to blame

Many scientists say that Mars once held life and that it might be able to do it again. However, they struggled to discover how Mars switched from a planet suitable for life into what it is today. It seems that solar winds were the ones which contributed to the conversion of Mars from hospitable to unhospitable.

The study which explains the phenomenon was published in the journal Science. The sun emitted some harsh particles which affected the atmosphere of Mars to such an extent that the planet turned uninhabitable. Before, the atmosphere of the Red Planet resembled that of Earth. However, under the influence of solar winds and harsh solar particles, it dissipated and left the planet barren and cold.

Around 4 billion years ago, Mars, as well as Earth, could sustain life. Its thick atmosphere kept warmth inside and it also provided all the wetness necessary for the survival of life forms. Then, the harsh particles coming from the sun started affecting this atmosphere.

Switching from a dense to a barren atmosphere

The friendly atmosphere disappeared, and gases took its place. After several measurements which the NASA spacecrafts performed, scientists discovered that neither of these gases can facilitate the presence of life.

Bruce Jakosky, the lead researcher from the University of Colorado in Boulder, identified the period when the atmosphere of Mars changed. It was around 3.7 or 4 billion years ago. Before that, the presence of microbes or other microorganisms was possible, but then the atmosphere started losing density.

It turned from a cover similar to that of our Earth to the complete opposite. All the data was collected by the MAVEN spacecraft (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution). This represents only one satellite from all the eight which revolve around Mars to explore all the conditions on the planet.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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