Mars was once a planet with a thicker atmosphere that could support liquid water on its surface, but is now a desert world with much of its atmosphere lost to space. CU/LASP’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission has been orbiting Mars for over a year, collecting data on the the planet’s atmosphere, and determining rates of atmospheric escape. Mars’ upper atmosphere is a dynamic place, responding dramatically to varying solar input with widespread aurora and particle outflows. I’ll talk about the sorts of measurements MAVEN is making at Mars and describe how these measurements have led to a revised picture of how the atmosphere operates and responds to varying solar wind and ultraviolet input. MAVEN’s comprehensive measurements of atmospheric particles are helping scientists understand the history of atmospheric escape at Mars, and are essential to reconstructing the history of Mars’ water loss.
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