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November 17, 2010

Mars Atmosphere Is Going Away?

This article from NASA discusses how the solar wind is currently stripping Mars of its atmosphere. Mars doesn't have a magnetosphere like Earth does to protect it from the solar wind, so it is much more vulnerable.
Check out the article and the video about a mission to launch in 2013 (MAVEN) to find out more about the atmosphere's interaction with the solar wind.


Posted by taysch at November 17, 2010 01:12 PM


I think that this is an interesting point for the possible future colonization of Mars. If we ever were to try and terraform Mars, since there is no magnetic field the atmosphere would just be stripped away once again. It would be a very slow process, but I think that it is still something to consider.

Posted by: defried at November 18, 2010 12:25 PM

Given that we are looking into future colonization of Mars, wouldn't it make sense to some how try to slow the depletion of its atmosphere? Although it would take a lot of work it seems pre-emptively worth it

Posted by: dankeith at November 22, 2010 08:04 PM

On top of reducing the possibility of colonization, you wonder what else the solar wind's depletion of the atmosphere has done to put an effect on Mars' surface. We know Mars used to be different years ago, but what would it be like today if this process was slower/faster?

Posted by: atkrupk at November 27, 2010 10:25 AM

That's really interesting to think about how, if mars did have a magnetosphere, things might be different today.
Continuing on the idea of connecting this with future Mars settlement, is there a way we could "recreate" a magnetosphere for Mars, or some other set up that would preform the same task of serving as a barrier to the solar wind?

Posted by: bkovan at November 27, 2010 07:01 PM

As the comments above mention, this would pose a problem if we were to try and terraform Mars so that we could colonize it. As we discussed in class, there are some ways we have thought of to try ad recreate an atmosphere on Mars but this would be very difficult. Additionally, hasn't there been discussion that we could create greenhouses to spur agriculture on the world and protect it from these solar winds.

Posted by: arieloz at December 3, 2010 01:19 PM

I don't believe that we have the technology to slow the stripping away of Mars' atmosphere from earth. To make any inroads into this dilemma, I believe that we must send astronauts to Mars. If we can send these astronauts to Mars successfully, and possibly open a laboratory on Mars, then scientists could make observations on how to ebb the depletion of Mar's atmosphere. This probably is a long time away from being in the realm of possibility for mankind.

Posted by: nvohra at December 6, 2010 10:22 PM

It is important to note that if humans continue to feed global warming with our excess CO2, the atmosphere and magnetic field will be severely weakened, so the magnetic field will no longer be able to protect the Earth. This will allow the sun's solar wind to further deplete the Earth's atmosphere, like it is currently doing to Mars, and destroy life as we know it.

Posted by: elizroge at December 7, 2010 10:31 PM

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