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Thursday, July 8, 2004

Water and Air May Really Be Gone

The Sun.
The Sun.
Credit: NASA
When the solar storm hit Earth last year, not many talked about how it would affect Mars.

Measurements from the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft revealed that when the solar storm hit Mars, huge amounts of atmosphere was blown off the planet. The blast, which took out Odyssey's radiation-measuring instrument, shows the severe consequences of lacking the magnetic fields that protect Earth.

There has been a running debate for decades about where the water and atmosphere on Mars went. While it is still a distinct possibility that most of the air remains trapped in deposits on the surface, and we know that there is still a good deal of water buried underground and in the poles, this new evidence bolsters the theory that the volatiles may simply be gone. If so, it could have far-reaching implications for terraforming, as most practical schemes utilize materials from Mars itself due to the fantastic cost of transporting from other worlds.

For the final answers, we may have to wait for Nozomi's successor to find out what really makes up the current atmosphere.

(More info: Yahoo! News)

- posted by Brian @ 18:14 EST