back to article NASA to sniff Martian atmosphere

NASA has announced it will in 2013 send a robotic mission to Mars to sniff the Red Planet's atmosphere and gain insights into how most of it was lost. The $485m Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft - judged as boasting the "best science value and lowest implementation risk" of 20 mission proposals - will " …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    Obligatory HHGTTG quote.

    "It's OK, but it smells a bit".

  2. Alex


    "Just as long as you don't make me smell Uranus' [atmosphere]"

  3. FlatSpot

    dust devils "dancing" across the extraterrestrial plains

    Come on that is definitely an alien in a cloaking device legging it to the pub before closing time....

  4. Alexander Giochalas

    Wasn't it settled?

    I thought it was because of its low mass (much lower than earth's), which leads to a quite lower escape velocity, making it much easier (and probable) for the atmospheric atoms/ molecules to reach/ exceed it and disperse into interplanetary space.

    Am I missing something?

  5. ian

    What ever happened to TDRSS?

    As I recall, TDRSS was planned, but seems to have fallen by the wayside. Does this new vehicle implement a TDRSS node?

    Details, please.

  6. Luther Blissett

    Anyone see a pattern here?

    First, the Great Water hunt - in search of non-existent water.

    Second, the Great Atmosphere hunt - in search of non-existent atmosphere.

    It can't be long now before NASA announces the Great Martian hunt. Some clown will stand up and say "Look here are the footprints", a financial bun-fight will follow, and NASA will despatch space probes with robotic legs having various sized plastic feet to see if any fit the evidence. The conclusion is foregone.

    They should stay at home untl they can explain just how an atmosphere 1% as dense as that on Earth, and with considerably less incipient solar radiation, can generate dust devils that grow to envelop the planet. Where is the energy coming from? The answer is not Martians with dust-making machines, war-dancing, or hiding from NASA. And it's not jinn, or micro black holes, or HIggs bloody bosons.

    P.S. Need 3 icons, like snafu, etc, but flagging pissed-offedness - Snapo, Tarpo, Pobar. This comment is only Tarpo. I'd have to be a professional physicist to justify Pobar, but I'm seriously tempted by this Mars racket.

  7. rfrovarp

    Re: Wasn't it settled?

    I thought it was due to the fact that Mars does not have a magnetic field. The solar wind is stripping away its atmosphere as a result.

  8. Bounty


    There is water on Mars...

    I'm just pissed we're not already terraforming the place.

  9. Ian R


    Terraforming has been a popular subject when discussing Mars for decades. However, there are various problems. The atmosphere - way too thin and if 'thickened' it will always leak away, as has been said, by a combination of low gravity and Solar wind stripping as there is no magnetic field to deflect the wind. Radiation - way too high, again as there is no magnetic field. Plant and animal life would have a hard time and die off easily, microbial life (specially selected for radiation endurance) might be about it. Even if it were possible to do any decent level of terraforming, all humans would still have to walk around in radiation protective suits with personal air supplies.

  10. Zmodem


    they could of just put a sensor of the last probe. they should use the speed of entry and make a glider.

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