Erosion of the Martian atmosphere by the solar wind – article in Science
Mars is bombarded by a flow of protons, electrons and alpha particles from the sun – the solar wind. The solar wind strips away the Martian atmosphere and is presumed to have eroded away much of the water which has been present on the planet.
That the acceleration processes that cause the loss of atmosphere on Mars are powerful is confirmed by the preliminary results from the instrument ASPERA-3 on board the European Space Agency ESA’s satellite Mars Express. On Friday 24 September the results will be published in the prestigious journal Science.
In the article “Solar Wind-Induced Atmospheric Erosion at Mars: First Results from ASPERA-3 on Mars Express” Professor Rickard Lundin from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) summarises the initial analysis of data from the instrument ASPERA-3 on board Mars Express which has been orbiting Mars since 25 december. The instrument has been largely built in Kiruna in northern Sweden as a collaboration with 15 research groups from 10 different countries.
Background material and pictures (NB: 3.5 MB PDF)
Rick McGregor, Information Officer, IRF, tel. +46-980-79178, +46-70-276 6020, <rick.mcgregor “at” irf.se
Professor Rickard Lundin, IRF, tel. +46-980-79063, +46-70-589 2119, <rickard.lundin “at” irf.se>