Science Seminars

11/3/2011 – Mars Climate Change and the 2013 MAVEN Mission to Mars

Speaker: Bruce Jakosky, LASP
Date: Wednesday, Nov 02, 2011
Time: 4:00 PM

Seminar Abstract:

There is abundant evidence that the ancient Martian climate was different from the present one. Liquid water was present, leaving behind both geological and geochemical evidence. But the present climate is cold and dry, unable to support sustained liquid water at the surface. I’ll discuss the evidence for climate change and the processes that might have played a role in changing the atmosphere. And I’ll discuss the upcoming Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission that will explore the loss of gases from the upper atmosphere to space as a driver of climate change. That mission is in full development right now, and launches in just over two years. It will orbit the planet and, during its one-year-long primary mission, will make measurements that will help us to understand the current composition and structure of the upper atmosphere, the current rates of escape of gas to space, and the extrapolation to earlier epochs. Thus, we will be able to determine the total loss to space over time and the role that loss to space has played in the history of the Martian atmosphere.