MAVEN, along with a DVD containing the names of anyone interested in going along for the ride,
The Red Planet will soon have to make room for another guest at the dinner table. And it could be you. NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) probe, set to launch on November 18, will carry eight scientific instruments to study the Martian atmosphere from orbit and one DVD. A favorite onboard movie perhaps? I wish. No, that DVD will contain your name if you drop by the Going to Mars with MAVEN site.
Den gule pil peger på det sted, hvor en DVD er anbragt med indsendte navne og små digte, som handler om netop denne Mars - mission.
Folk fra hele verden har indsendt deres bidrag.
"The going to Mars
- passionate kisses on clouds
- carbon dioxide"
MAVEN will arrive at Mars in the fall of 2014 and begin a year-long mission to study the atmosphere and Martian climate in detail. Mars once had a much thicker atmosphere that allowed liquid water to pool into lakes and rivers on its surface. Scientists are hoping to learn how the planet lost so much of its air and water to become the cold, arid planet it is today.
Instruments like the Suprathermal and Thermal Ion Composition (STATIC) device will measure the current rate at which Mars loses its atmosphere to space to help us look back into Mars' past. No one sure exactly what causes the loss, though it's likely connected to the planet's lack of a protective magnetic field like the Earthr's.
Disappearance of the ancient magnetic field (purple)
Mars may have had a magnetic field in ancient times, which would have protected its atmosphere from being stripped away by continual blasts from the solar wind, a high-speed flow of energetic electrons and protons.
Which begs the question of how that field disappeared in the first place.
Earth's magnetic field is created by the currents generated from the motion of hot, liquid iron in its core. Mars probably started out with a similar liquid core, but since the planet is considerably smaller than the Earth, it cooled down much faster. The core gradually solidified, the magnetic field vanished and the Red Planet found itself naked in a biting wind.