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Mars NASA Space Science

NASA Plans Mission To Study Martian Atmosphere 61

An anonymous reader writes "Since the atmospheric blanket of Mars is fast disappearing, NASA is planning a mission to Mars in 2013 to study the Red Planet further. The $400-million plus project named the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) will investigate how Mars lost most of its atmosphere. This will be critical in understanding whether there has been life there or not."
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NASA Plans Mission To Study Martian Atmosphere

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  • by multiben ( 1916126 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @12:28AM (#33820550)
    A fact that not many people know is humans used to live on Mars. We fucked that place up and came to Earth.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by retech ( 1228598 )
      Wow, and here I thought Tom Cruise only posted on Oprah's website and a Scientology blog. I am honoured to have you here on /.! (Tag that last sentence with sarcasm please.)
      • You know, he may be a few crackers short in his chili but that makes me think of something I've been wondering for awhile: Why are we not seriously trying to Terraform Mars? The first country to terraform Mars is gonna have their own planet full of resources to rule, it is the closest and by far the easiest to Terraform (has water, air, decent gravity, etc) and I'm sure even if we made it a one way trip there would be tons of hearty folks that would give their left nut to go. so why not send one ship with s

        • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @02:32AM (#33821220)

          Why are we not seriously trying to Terraform Mars?

          Because we do not have the capability to do so, and aren't likely to in the foreseeable future. Read up on some of the non-fictional assessments of what making Mars livable would entail.

          When and if we do get such capabilities, terraforming will still take a very, very long time. A realistic estimate is at least a century of continuous effort to put a breathable atmosphere in place, and frankly, that's optimistic. We'd need infrastructure in the rest of the solar system in place first, to supply the resources needed, specifically to thicken the Martian atmosphere, add a liquid hydrosphere and make the introduction of life possible. I doubt we can get that infrastructure in place from where we are now without many decades and countless trillions devoted to doing so, and that isn't even stage one of the terraforming process, it's stage zero.

          Put another way, with the resources it would take to make Mars habitable, we could easily fix most of our current problems here on Earth, regarding climate, resource scarcity, energy and ecology. After all, it's the same problems in both cases. And we'll never, ever be able to move a significant portion of our population to Mars even if the planet could support life; a spacecraft carrying a thousand colonists would be an amazing feat of engineering, and ten rounds trips would move less than a hundred thousandth of the current world population.

          • I agree, I think making a magnetosphere to protect any atmosphere you manufacture might also be classed as “a bit fucking hard”. :) But it is a good question. How to you get a planets core moving again?
            • You make a big ring surrounding the planet, and when it is completed you can remove the support pillars so that it floats. Then maybe you could make a transformer by winding a conductor around it... Mars is a good candidate because you don't have as much terrain sticking up in the air.
              • Mars is a good candidate because you don't have as much terrain sticking up in the air.

                Huh. Olympus Mons on Mars is the tallest known mountain in the solar system with the peak being 17 miles above the mean surface level on Mars. I'd say that's a lot of terrain sticking up in the air.

                • Huh. Olympus Mons on Mars is the tallest known mountain in the solar system with the peak being 17 miles above the mean surface level on Mars.

                  Yea, um, we're planning on going around it...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by knarf ( 34928 )

            100 years is nothing of course. If the space race had not been about a dick size contest between two political powers but about real scientific progress those rain makers might have been pumping out gases on mars for almost half of that period by now. To a single person it might seem a daunting proposition to put effort into something which is not going to pay of before he or she is dead or gone but nevertheless this is done time and time again - just ask any middle-aged forest owner if he expects to be aro

          • by atisss ( 1661313 )

            Now why did you had to spoil our imaginations? Why why ;(

            Anyway, having some colonists on mars, and terraforming it would ensure that no single catastrophic event could kill all humanity. With the exception of blewing up whole solar system of course :)

            Then we would be allowed to fuck up one planet and learn from mistakes.
            For example I doubt that mars colonists would burn carbon based fuel in it's atmosphere.. There's simply none of it there. So, colonization would initially be cleaner.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by eyenot ( 102141 )

          We haven't terraformed Mars because the exact way to get it done has not been predicted, yet.

          You should grab any hard-sci fi anthology on terraforming and/or Mars and look into it. Some fairly serious scientists write some of these short stories and put a lot of truly scientific effort into it. One guy who works somewhere in the space-related fields wrote a story detailing how it would be more or less truly impossible to build Mars an atmosphere conducive to human life for reasons related to gravity.

          I think

          • We haven't terraformed Mars because the exact way to get it done has not been predicted, yet.

            You should grab any hard-sci fi anthology on terraforming and/or Mars and look into it. ...

            While I don't want to dissuade you from reading science fiction about terraforming, I will point out that science fiction really is not the best way to learn about real science. We science fiction writers make stuff up in order to make a good plot. In particular, SF writers often make up magical technology, in order to make terraforming happen at a rate faster than geological time scales.

            Best way to learn about terraforming would be to read Martyn Fogg's book Terraforming: Engineering Planetary Environmen

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          The first country to terraform mars doesn't own it. The country with the biggest guns owns it.

          As to the reason why we haven't tried.
          1) land on earth is still relatively cheap. Maybe when the population on earth is 30 billion, and we are suffering the aftermath of a limited nuclear exchange, all fish is vat cloned because oceans are too polluted then maybe the economics is different.

          2) Until we get a space elevator it is prohibitively expensive to put things into even geo transfer orbit much less shooting

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Na we totally were on Venus and global warming went crazy there. We just didn't learn. Are you people ready for crazy high pressures?!?! It's coming! Any century now...

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Turns out trucking all the water to the polar ice caps to create the biggest frozen t-shirt contest ever WASNT a good idea after all.
    • You joke, but last night on Bad Universe on the Discovery channel, Phil Plait was talking about the Martian meteorite that was found in the Antarctic. They showed an electron microscope scan of a region that looked like a cell undergoing mitosis. If this is really Martian life, it would be older than any life on Earth. In fact, it would be possible that life originated on Mars and seeded Earth. We could all really be Martians! (Yes, all speculative at this point, but fun to think about.)

  • Geothermal energy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by turing_m ( 1030530 )

    It's for these sort of reasons that I'm very sceptical about making large scale use of geothermal energy. If we eventually start solidifying magma as a result of the heat extraction and the earth loses its magnetic field as a result, say goodbye to the nice atmosphere and radiation protection we have now.

    • In a couple of billion years, maybe. But even now we could probably make our own magnetic field. And for that matter we could directly manufacture a new atmosphere if loss into space became a problem.

    • Right, and tidal plants stop the tide.
      I think you are going across some orders of magnitude here.

      Although it was previously thought that a tidally locked planet (or one without a magnetic field) would have their atmosphere taken away, studies have shown that without the solar storm would induce a magnetic field protecting the atmosphere within one hour.

      • studies have shown that without the solar storm would induce a magnetic field protecting the atmosphere within one hour.

        Huh. I would have thought they through the wind in at least.

    • That... doesn't make sense.

      Earth generates its heat through radioactive decay of elements like U-238. That decay will happen whether we use the energy or not. The only question is how much we route the heat flow through our systems and how much of it goes to driving volcanoes and plate tectonics, as far as I can see. Earth produces about 2-3 times as much energy as we (as a civilization) use, so if we got all of our energy from geothermal, we'd be in trouble. However, the Earth also receives about (let's

    • This guy might be wrong, but I don't think he's a troll. Fuck's sakes.

  • Maybe they can send Bruce McCandless to go check it out for us?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope they make it in time before it all disappears.

  • Fast disappearing ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @12:54AM (#33820682)

    Fast disappearing ? I think it has a few billion years to go, 100 million years would be a low estimate. Heck, Phobos will crash in only a few million years, and even that .is considerably longer than NASA's time horizon

  • y haven't they been since it was first suggested life "could have" lived there? O__o

  • We need to rescue Spirit and Opportunity. Loyalty should count for something.
  • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @01:24AM (#33820838) Homepage
    Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission: MAVEN?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The N comes from the end of "Evolution". Mission is not a part of the acronym.

      • by radtea ( 464814 )

        The N comes from the end of "Evolution".

        If they're going to randomly pull letters to make the acronym anything they feel like they're opening up a real can of worms:

        mArS atmoSphere and vOlatiLe Evolution Mission
        Mars Atmosphere anD VOlatiLe Evolution Mission ...

        The possibilities are endless, and meaningless, and irritating.

        Is it just me, or is this use of weird acronyms a particularly American thing? I'm thinking of things like the PATRIOT Act, FIRST Robitics, and so on.

        I find it equally annoying when applied to things I approve of (MAVEN, FIRST)

        • From "Augustine's Laws," written a few decades ago... "The Defense Marketing Survey has stated that it has compiled a list of over one million acronyms which are in common usage in defense matters alone. These acronyms consist principally of 'words' made up of five or fewer letters. Since the number of five-letter (or less) acronyms that can be formed with the English alphabet is no more than about 14 million, it can be seen that nearly 10 percent of all possible reasonable acronyms have already been used
        • They are helpful though. Maven pays my bills right now, and i would feel incredibly goofy calling it MAVEM or MAO (mars atmosphere orbiter) during our discussions. This one doesn't feel especially contrived, more like they came up with a name and found an easily said acronym that fit with it. Also a good name makes sure it doesn't face trouble in congress or the media.

          That and to be honest I didn't really notice that it didn't match up until now, even though I've been working on it for three months...

      • by Dabido ( 802599 )
        No wonder you posted as 'Anonymous Coward'. You read the article rather than just the summary, didn't you!!!!!!!
  • They're going to Mars to study AIR? That's ridiculous! Thank Lord Jesus we have the teabaggers to put a stop to this. It's ridiculous that they would go to Mars to study air. Everyone knows that Mars doesn't exist. What a waste of taxpayer money. It's a socialism and Muslim waste of money. NASA is probably just doing it to make Barack Obama look good. What next? Will they build a mosque on Mars too? Has Glen Beck cried about this outrage yet?

  • Yeah, we'd better hurry. Another billion years and it will be almost gone.

Loose bits sink chips.