Planets and Moons  ID: 11929

Imaging Stars From Mars

High above the thin Martian skies, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft is carrying out a mission: determine how Mars lost its early atmosphere, and with it, its water. While previous Mars orbiters have peered down at the planet’s surface, MAVEN is spending part of its time gazing at the stars, looking for subtle changes in their color as they dip through the limb of Mars and set below the horizon. Such stellar occultations reveal what the atmosphere is made of, and how its composition varies with altitude. MAVEN’s observations are providing the most detailed picture of Mars’ upper atmosphere to date, helping scientists understand how it turned from a warm and wet planet into the forbidding desert that we see today. Watch the video to learn more.

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Story Credits

Walt Feimer (HTSI)
Michael Lentz (USRA)
Chris Smith (Self)
Kel Elkins (USRA)
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC)

Lead Visualizer/Animator:
Brian Monroe (USRA)

Video Editor:
Dan Gallagher (USRA)

Dan Gallagher (USRA)

Bruce Jakosky (LASP)

Project Support:
John Caldwell (Advocates in Manpower Management, Inc.)

Rob Andreoli (Advocates in Manpower Management, Inc.)

Lead Writer:
Dan Gallagher (USRA)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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