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Mars Atmosphere Affected by Solar Radiation, Not Wind Mars Atmosphere Affected by Solar Radiation, Not Wind

Mars Atmosphere Affected by Solar Radiation, Not Wind

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The Earth has a magnetic field protecting its atmosphere from solar winds. But since Mars lacks such protection, many have speculated that solar winds are responsible for the collapse of the hydrological cycle that was thought to have been in place billions of years ago. The theory is that the winds caused the greenhouse effect to wipe out that cycle, creating the atmosphere seen on the planet today.

However, new research shows that the Red Planet does, in fact, have a protective magnetosphere, created by the solar winds themselves. As the winds blow over the planet’s surface, they activate currents in the ionized upper atmosphere, which generates the magnetic field necessary to protect the planet.

Unfortunately, this may not be enough to prevent the escape of ions into space. A team of Swedish researchers have been monitoring the escape rate using an ion mass analyzer since 2004. They have found that the rate of escape is affected by ultraviolet radiation, not solar winds. The winds do stir the particles, but they do not accelerate the escape rate. But even with that explanation, scientists say that does not explain the massive loss of atmospheric pressure over the course of billions of years.

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Read 1435 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 03:16
Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and novelist whose work has appeared on NYPost.com, PSMag.com, the Intuit Small Business Blog, and many others. She is the Simon & Schuster author of 8 children's books, including the Piper Morgan chapter book series, 25 Roses, and 30 Days of No Gossip.

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