Solar Wind (Slight Return)

Circling back to my note on solar wind and the Martian atmosphere.

In the note, I described how the solar wind interacts with the ionosphere of Mars to create an induced magnetosphere. Recent data from ESA’s Mars Express mission suggests that this induced magnetosphere actually protects the Martian atmosphere from the ion loss expected to be caused by that same solar wind. Thus, the long held idea that the solar wind blew away Mars’ atmosphere is now in question.

The article below outlines an alternative hypothesis. Rather than losing atmosphere to the solar wind, maybe Mars can’t hold onto one because its gravity is just too weak.

Making oxygen

There is plenty of oxygen on Mars, just not in the nice O2 form that we need to breathe. Getting that requires some effort but will be worth it: oxygen is not the sort of thing we want to have to haul with us from Earth, particularly not for long-term colonization. The buzzphrase applied to technology that uses existing resources is In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), and this is what we are going to do, in one form or another. Continue reading “Making oxygen”