Sunday, August 25, 2013


The MAVEN Mars orbiter is set to launch in November or early December.  Once it reaches Mars, it will return data that scientists will use to explore the composition and dynamics of the upper atmosphere where air meets space.  A key goal will be to better understand the processes that likely lead to the loss of the Red Planet's likely much thicker early atmosphere.

Aviation Week and Space Technology has an excellent article describing the mission and its science here.

1 comment:

  1. The Keystone GarterOctober 14, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    You know me, I like Enceladus and VASIMR. I see a high basic science and materials engineering return from focussing upon active physcial phenomena. Phase changes and active and dynamic weathering phenomena. Much of this on Mars happened in the past or is happening underground. The latter requires better subsurfac access but I recognize Mars science is relatively mature.
    The gullies are what interests me. Trying to time/forecast the formation of the next one and having observation platforms waiting. I believe Martian dust devils can be used like craters are, to gauge the age of gullies. But at a much more recent resolution. Largest Dust Devils that have travelled over gullies; their tracks are erased. But I'd bet the largest dust devils leave evidence of their past travelling in soil sediment samples. I'd bet if you cores the soil of gullies where Dust Devils frequent, you'd get discontinuous layers that look something like the sands of one of those sand-water-bubble-window-thingie you flip upside down to watch sands trickle out in water. The dust devils should bring in sand composed of materials not from the immediate vicinity, or the sand will have scoured or compressed layers...if true and measureable, these cores could tell you how old a gully is. And thus, maybe when and where the next one is most likely to occur. Could be wrong.