1000 days in Mars orbit. Scientific discoveries of MAVEN satellite
On June 17, the American satellite MAVEN ended its 1000th day in the Mars orbit. During its operation, it provided a lot of data, which served as the basis for many scientific discoveries related to the Red Planet. Here are the most important of them.
- The lower and upper layers of the atmosphere of Mars exchange gases. These processes are currently understood. The discovery was facilitated by satellite imagery.
- Some solar wind particles are able to reach the upper atmosphere of the planet, while most of them are deflected by the ionosphere. This is possible because of the processes in the ionosphere, due to which charged particles are converted into neutral atoms.
- MAVEN conducted an observation of the ionic layer of metals in the ionosphere of Mars. It is formed due to cosmic dust entering the atmosphere. This layer has dramatically increased due to the comet C2013/A1 Siding Spring, which could collide with Mars in 2014.
- MAVEN identified two new types of aurora: “diffuse” and “proton”. They are not similar to those occurred on Earth, and are unrelated to either a global or local magnetic field.
- Data on these aurorae has shown that they are caused by an influx of particles from the sun ejected by different types of solar storms. When these particles hit the Martian atmosphere, they can increase the rate of loss of gas to space, by a factor of ten or more.
- The satellite found out that the solar wind has a much more complex impact on Mars than scientists thought. This is due to the lack of an intrinsic magnetic field in the planet and the occurrence of small regions of magnetized crust. Due to this, the magnetosphere of the planet looks “lumpy”.
- MAVEN found out that hydrogen on Mars varies by a factor of 10 throughout the year. This is due to water, split by sunlight into hydrogen and oxygen.
- Due to the measurement of isotopes in the upper layers of the atmosphere, scientists found that about 66% of the all gas of the planet lost into space.
- MAVEN determined the speed of gas “leakage” as a result its stripping by the sun and solar wind. Scientists have found out that a large amount of gas is lost in space.
- The sun and solar wind has literally stripped away the atmosphere of Mars. Because of this, the humid and warm climate of the planet has changed to cold and dry one.