Just as hundreds of thousands of people protested political inaction on climate change on Earth, a satellite swung into orbit that should help explain why climate change happened — on Mars.
NASA’s MAVEN satellite, en route to Mars for the last 10 months, finally arrived in orbit around the Red Planet around 10:40pm ET Sunday night. This followed a tense 33-minute thruster burn as the satellite aimed to slow its speed down enough for Martian gravity to take over. The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory was understandably thrilled.
MAVEN stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, but you’d be better off calling this satellite a climate detective. Its mission is to help us figure out how Mars lost all its water millions of years ago, back when the planet looked a lot like Earth. Mars has almost no air pressure, which is necessary to keep liquid water from dissipating into space.
Thus far MAVEN is alone, but it should have a friend on Tuesday — an Indian satellite called the Mars Orbiter Mission, which is on its way to study Martian methane (another clue to the climate mystery).
And of course, there are one or two Earth-born companions still roaming the Martian surface. Delightfully, they’re tweeting at each other.
Source: Chris Taylor / Mashable