Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Nasa to probe why Mars lost its atmosphere

29 October 2013, 13:33

Washington - Nasa said on Monday it is on track to launch its Maven probe to Mars next month to find out why the Red Planet lost much of its atmosphere.

The unmanned spaceship is scheduled to leave Earth on 18 November at 13:38 (1739 GMT).

The 10-month journey to Mars means that if all goes well, the probe will arrive in late September 2014, and will begin its yearlong orbiting mission in November, space agency scientists said.

It will soar at an altitude of 6 115km above Mars's surface, and dip down to 125km five times during the mission.

Maven, which stands for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission has three suites of instruments to detect changes in Mars' upper atmosphere.

However, it will not hunt for methane, a gas which signals the presence of living microbes or organic materials.

$671m mission

Nasa's Curiosity rover is patrolling the surface of Mars and has found only trace amounts of methane in the Martian atmosphere, disappointing those who hoped to find higher levels, indicating the presence of some life forms there.

Still, scientists said Maven may add to knowledge of what Mars was like before the Sun conspired to strip it of its atmosphere.

The planet that neighbours Earth "underwent a major climate change in its past," said Jim Green, director of the planetary science division at Nasa headquarters.

"Maven will tell us why Mars went through such dramatic atmospheric changes over the years."

Mars' atmosphere is "now too cold, too thin to support liquid water," said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.

"Maven will focus on the history of Mars's atmosphere and whether it was able to support life as we know it."

The overall mission costs $671m, and if it reaches orbit successfully, it may have enough fuel to continue for almost a decade, said Jakosky.

"We are hoping for a very long mission," he told reporters.

The Maven mission is part of a series of rovers and probes that aim to return key data about Mars before a planned mission to send humans there as early as the 2030s, NASA has said.

The 2 453kg spacecraft will launch aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


Tags nasa us space

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...