NASA's MAVEN spacecraft has provided its first results from its Mars mission, and its findings have given scientists a fresh look at the Martian atmosphere.
MAVEN, whose primary investigator is based at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, provided scientists with three views of Mars' atmosphere. The spacecraft was launched in November 2013 "to help solve the mystery of how the Red Planet lost most of its atmosphere," according to NASA.
The three new views of Mars' "escaping atmosphere" will help the MAVEN remote sensing team to better understand the processes of Mars' atmospheric loss by "observing all of the products of water and carbon dioxide breakdown," NASA reports. The results from the MAVEN spectograph have revealed a "storm of energetic solar particles" on Mars, the result of coronal mass ejections from the sun and a possible cause of atmospheric loss.
MAVEN has provided "unprecedented ultraviolet images" of the oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon of the Martian atmosphere. Using MAVEN's observations, the scientists were able to create a map of the Martian ozone beneath atmospheric coronas. The scientists will conduct two weeks of "instrument calibration and testing" before MAVEN begins its "primary science mission" in November.