NASA Spacecraft Beams First Images from Martian Atmosphere

NASA\'s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has provided scientists their first look at a storm of solar energetic particles (SEPs) at the Red Planet.

Published: 15th October 2014 11:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th October 2014 11:16 AM   |  A+A-

NASA
By IANS

WASHINGTON: NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has provided scientists their first look at a storm of solar energetic particles (SEPs) at the Red Planet.

The solar energetic particles (SEPs) are streams of high-speed particles blasted from the sun during explosive solar activity like flares or coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Around Earth, SEP storms can damage the sensitive electronics on satellites.

At Mars, they are thought to be one possible mechanism for driving atmospheric loss.
Maven has clicked unprecedented ultraviolet images of the tenuous oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon coronas surrounding the Red Planet, and yielded a comprehensive map of highly-variable ozone in the atmosphere underlying the coronas, NASA reported.

“All the instruments are showing data quality that is better than anticipated at this early stage of the mission,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN Principal Investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

According to him, “It is turning out to be an easy and straightforward spacecraft to fly, at least so far. It really looks as if we are headed for an exciting science mission."

The spacecraft, which entered Mars' orbit Sep 21, now is lowering its orbit and testing its instruments.

MAVEN was launched to help solve the mystery of how the Red Planet lost most of its atmosphere.

"With these observations, MAVEN has obtained the most complete picture of the extended Martian upper atmosphere ever made," noted MAVEN Remote Sensing Team member Mike Chaffin of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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