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NASA Scientist Proposes Magnetic Atmosphere for Mars

Mar 06, 2017 08:47 AM EST
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This is what it's like to spend eight months on Mars

Without an atmosphere, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to sustain life on Mars. NASA scientists, however, are looking for ways to make it work. He is proposing to use a magnetic shield to act as an atmosphere around the red planet.

The magnetic atmosphere was proposed by a NASA scientist to protect Mars. The agency's Planetary Science Division (PSD) completed an event called "Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop" where some intriguing concepts were introduced.

NASA's director Jim Green himself discussed how a magnetic shield could help enhance the atmosphere of Mars. This will also make the Journey to Mars mission plausible in the near future.

"A future Mars protected from the direct solar wind should come to a new equilibrium allowing an extensive atmosphere to support liquid water on its surface," NASA director Jim Green said in the study.

Based on a previous study, Mars had a magnetic field shield that protects its atmosphere, but it mysteriously disappeared 4.2 billion years ago. This resulted in the eradication of the planet's atmosphere and also led to the planet being cold from its former warm temperature.

Many experts are currently studying the Martian atmosphere, including the European Space Agency (ESA). Various probes are studying how solar winds eliminate the Martian atmosphere and how it is still affecting the planet today.

The most important part of the 2030 mission to Mars is to keep the crew alive. This shield would be beneficial to the crewed mission that is already considered hazardous given the lack of atmosphere on Mars.

To do this, they are planning on mounting a magnetic dipole shield at L1 Lagrange Point. The formed magnetic shield is expected to engulf the whole planet and, at the same time, protect it from solar winds and radiation.

"This new research is coming about due to the application of full plasma physics codes and laboratory experiments," NASA director Jim Green said in a statement. "In the future, it is quite possible that an inflatable structure(s) can generate a magnetic dipole field at a level of perhaps 1 or 2 Tesla (or 10,000 to 20,000 Gauss) as an active shield against the solar wind."

Although considered "ambitious" and theoretical, it is still considered to be on track and in line with the current Martian concepts being studied for the 2030 mission.

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