Forget Mars, anomaly, NASA.

Posted: November 6, 2015 by tchannon in Astrophysics

The media interpretation will be all over the media today

As I think most Talkshop readers suspected Mars has no atmosphere as a consequence of the planet’s lack of a magnetic field, solar wind etc. strips the gas. NASA have stated they have found gas stripping.

The following is riddled with assumptions. As if there is more than dreaming of little green men.

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.

MAVEN data have enabled researchers to determine the rate at which the Martian atmosphere currently is losing gas to space via stripping by the solar wind. The findings reveal that the erosion of Mars’ atmosphere increases significantly during solar storms. The scientific results from the mission appear in the Nov. 5 issues of the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters.

“Mars appears to have had a thick atmosphere warm enough to support liquid water which is a key ingredient and medium for life as we currently know it,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Understanding what happened to the Mars atmosphere will inform our knowledge of the dynamics and evolution of any planetary atmosphere. Learning what can cause changes to a planet’s environment from one that could host microbes at the surface to one that doesn’t is important to know, and is a key question that is being addressed in NASA’s journey to Mars.”

MAVEN measurements indicate that the solar wind strips away gas at a rate of about 100 grams (equivalent to roughly 1/4 pound) every second. “Like the theft of a few coins from a cash register every day, the loss becomes significant over time,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “We’ve seen that the atmospheric erosion increases significantly during solar storms, so we think the loss rate was much higher billions of years ago when the sun was young and more active.”

In addition, a series of dramatic solar storms hit Mars’ atmosphere in March 2015, and MAVEN found that the loss was accelerated. The combination of greater loss rates and increased solar storms in the past suggests that loss of atmosphere to space was likely a major process in changing the Martian climate.

Good luck with the junk NASA web site, very little information. GRL is as bad, in your face.

This probably raises questions over Venus which is also magnetically poor but has a dense atmosphere. Vulcanism and heavy molecules might be an answer.

Post by Tim

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘This probably raises questions over Venus which is also magnetically poor but has a dense atmosphere.’

    More ‘definitely’ than probably IMO. Magnetospheres can also reverse.

  2. Miso says:

    Escape velocity on Earth is app. 11.2 km/s. On Venus 10.3 km/s. On Mars 5 km/s.

    Now you can use this page to calculate the speed of a specific gas molecule at a given temperature. Speeds of actual molecules at a given temperature will be distributed along the curve explained on the same page – some will be faster and some slower. If the faster ones exceed escape velocity (at the top of the atmosphere), they will escape out into space.

    Now Earth and Venus are massive enough to retain many of the gasses in their atmosphere – but not massive enough to retain hydrogen. The gravity of Mars is so small that even some CO2 molecules achieve escape velocity, so CO2 is constantly lost from Mars’ atmosphere.

    Of course solar wind stripping has some effect, but the case of Venus (much closer to the Sun than Mars, with correspondingly more intensive solar wind, yet with 90 bar of predominantly CO2 atmosphere) indicates that solar wind stripping is quite small compared to gravitational loss.

  3. A C Osborn says:

    Nothing that has not been put forward in the past.
    Slightly off topic but could this be yet another poke in the eye with a stick for “Settled Science”?
    According to the said settled science and it’s “laws” this can’t happen.
    But even with more rigorous tests it is still happening.

  4. tchannon says:

    Miso, that gives context. Suggests to me NASA are making a fuss about nothing significantly altering what was already known.

  5. rishrac says:

    Escape velocity is neither here or there in talking about stripping gasses off it. Without a magnetic field, we’d be cooked like a hot dog. It is interesting that the IPCC goes on about how steady the sun is, but hasn’t said a word about the 10% decline in the magnetic field strength of the earth. There is one particular frequency that heats water directly. It’s the same frequency in your handy nuker. Doesn’t heat up the air inside, well it will if there is moisture, travels right trough the atmosphere sooty or clear.
    I can make a hockey stick just on the inverse proportion of the oceans getting heated up by that one frequency over the last 150 years. What do you think is more likely. The atmosphere getting warmer from the transfer of heat from the water to the atmosphere, or heat in the atmosphere warming water?

    When will the water in your microwave boil? After 10 seconds? Probably not. After 20, it’ll be so that you can tell it’s warmer. Definitely after a minute, … the point is that there are so many variables in climate science, to say with certainty that one thing controls the temperature is absurd. I can make a case for microwave radiation. Do the math youself. I think you will have to use some calculus, the cross sectional areas at the poles get stronger. So you will have to integrate the formula.

    I’ve thought from time to time that’s why there is ice at the poles. Believe it or not the poles get the same amount of sunlight as the equator. Ice that stays. .. glaciers? I don’t know, I’ll look when I get inspired to do so.

    Both Venus and Mars had water at one time. Both Venus and Mars do not have a magnetic field. Interestingly they can see storms on Neptune, it has a magnetic field. Another interesting thing is the wind speed of the planets the further out they are. Are these stronger wind speeds of the hurricanes a result of a warmer temperature or are we further away during that time of year now… a combination of the two? How interesting! As we move further away not as much heat, but could be faster,so this is a sweet spot. The orbit clicks over 1 day every year to closer and further away.. so in 365 years or so, we are back to the original position, but not exactly. Now, throw in changing solar cycles, ad in changing lunar/and or planetary positions. Jupiter’s enormous magnetic field and the earth’s position in relation.

    The science on CAGW is so not settled. Politics, is like religion, what do you believe? This is like working on quantum physics, makes my head hurt.

  6. Wayne Job says:

    I recently read the book by the last real African witch doctor. He states in no uncertain terms that the black race in Africa came from Mars. Mars was being destroyed by some alien mob and their last two craft were filled will pregnant women and they landed in Africa. The Mars we see today may be of recent destruction, interesting if they find artefacts up there? Just saying what I read.

  7. tallbloke says:

    The ultimate in cargo cult crazy claims. 🙂

  8. pochas says:

    Here’s a way – out comment for your entertainment. The solar wind, mostly protons, is electrically neutral but ionized. If captured by the earth’s magnetic field it will eventually lose energy and precipitate into the atmosphere and end up after combining with oxygen as water. So the solar wind can strip hydrogen from a planet with no magnetic field (mars) but not from a planet with a magnetic field and oxygen generating capacity (earth). The critters on earth make enough oxygen to produce water from the solar wind.

  9. Lars P. says:

    Was it not that the magnetic field protection was raised into question?
    “The Earth is losing atmosphere at a rate of 5 X 10^25 (50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) molecules per second.”
    “Their discussions led to the realisation that the loss rate was greater than either Mars or Venus. These two planets have very little magnetic shielding from the solar wind, which can scour off material from atmospheres. So what is going on?”

  10. Berényi Péter says:

    MAVEN measurements indicate that the solar wind strips away gas at a rate of about 100 grams (equivalent to roughly 1/4 pound) every second.

    Eh, that’s an annual loss of 22 grams on a square kilometer. Next to nothing, even compared to the present day Martian atmosphere. Which has 160 thousand tons of stuff over the same area.

    Prevarication rulez.

  11. Clinton H. says:

    Bruce Jakosky is not very competent. He takes others’ work and then tries to take credit for their findings like he is the expert. It was a widely accepted theory that the loss of mar’s magnetic field led to the loss of the atmosphere. But because Bruce Jakosky craves attention, he likes to publically post this knowledge and take credit for it. Nasa loves it because it creates publicity for them. I think its safe to assume, the atmosphere began to dissipate about the same time core began to solidify causing the loss of the magnetic field. Did the magnetic field simply “switch off” like Bruce Jakosky believes or did it slowly dissipate over a period of time as the core of the planet cooled and the rotation of the core slowed reducing the magnetic field? I think Bruce Jakosky is an outdated fossil himself and that the Mars lost atmosphere slowly as it lost it’s magnetic field. When the magnetic field was finally completely lost, the first solar flare that came along finished the job. Nasa, please retire Bruce Jakosky and find a competent EXPERT to replace him, preferably someone with a PhD and good credentials.