This week marks 15 years of human habitation of the International Space Station; CBS announces the return of Star Trek to the small screen after a decade-long absence; and NASA is asking who has the right stuff to become one of the next generation of astronauts to soar among the stars.
Learn how Mars lost its atmosphere to the solar wind, how crickets soar in our own atmosphere, and watch the thermonuclear fire of the sun in ultraviolet light.
Orion spacecraft, astronauts will soon have many options for leaving the atmosphere. via NASA now tracking 2014 MU69, a Kuiper belt object, for a rendezvous in January 2019. via Wired
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) team has been able to determine the mechanisms and rate by which the atmosphere of Mars was stripped away. The sun emits a constant stream of ionized particles — the solar wind — and on planets with strong magnetic fields, like Earth, the solar wind is held at bay, protecting the atmosphere. Without this field, the planet is exposed to the raw solar wind, allowing it to strip away the atmosphere.
The MAVEN team estimates that most of the atmospheric loss happened between 4.2 and 3.7 billion years ago, starting when the magnetic field of Mars ceased around 4.2 billion years ago. The exact cause for the ending of Mars' magnetic field is unknown and another mission is studying that. Currently on Mars the solar wind strips away around a quarter pound of oxygen and carbon dioxide each day. via NASA