The cold and dry planet of Mars is dominated by carbon dioxide that resides inside a thin atmosphere. According to new data from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, the planet has been that way for nearly 4 billion years.
According to scientists, Mars’ formation occurred nearly 4.5 billion years ago, and its violent formation caused it to lose most of its atmosphere almost immediately.
Currently Mars’ atmosphere is only one percent as thick as Earth’s atmosphere.
Paul Mahaffy, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, says of the planet’s loss of atmosphere:
“A lot of the atmosphere of Mars might have been lost pretty rapidly.”
Mahaffy is the lead author on two studies that were co-published in today’s edition of the journal Science.
Paul Mahaffy continues:
“That’s not too surprising, because [somewhere] between 3.5 [billion] and 4 billion years ago, you had all this stuff flying around the solar system, and the planets were getting bombarded with a lot of impactors that formed all these craters on the moon and on Mars, so that very active period might have caused a lot of the atmosphere to go away.”
So perhaps there never were Martians on Mars. Potential alien life forms may not have had an environment that was hospitable to the formation of life.
While the low atmosphere would make it hard to survive, the rover Curiosity did discover that humans could withstand the planet’s radiation levels.
Are you surprised to learn that Mars’ violent formation may have immediately destroyed its ability to sustain a strong life assisting atmosphere?