In the world of interstellar politics, it has long been known that the sun has always been full of hot plasma. And, apparently the sun has been using the gasses it generates to bully other planets.
While scientists are unsure as to what Mars said to upset the angry sun, they are convinced that Mars’s atmosphere was effectively blown away by hot bursts of this gas being launched at it from millions of miles away.
Following research and measurements conducted by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (Maven for short,) the agency has determined that when Mars was a young planet, that its atmosphere was very warm and wet. In other words, conditions on the planet were able to sustain life much as our own. This finding falls in line with other research missions in the past few years which have uncovered everything from evidence of bacteria to rock formations created by flowing water. These findings have given credence to the beliefs of scientists and sci-fi fans everywhere that earth was not, and is not the only life sustaining planet in the universe…it’s just the only one we know about.
Instruments on the Maven craft discovered that ions were escaping from the planet’s surface at an expedited rate following coronal mass ejections (solar bursts for the layman.) Put succinctly, the sun was baking the surface of the planet and reducing the life-sustaining atmosphere each time it sent these blasts of hot gas out into space. Over the past few billion years, these sudden and unpredictable emissions have turned Mars into a wasteland that is incapable of sustaining life. So, it wasn’t Professor Plum holding a candlestick in the library that killed the planet…it was the normal processes of the sun as it has evolved that took all life away on Mars.
Could this happen to earth? Scientists answering this question say no. Our atmosphere coupled with the planet’s magnetism protect our planet from these solar mass ejections. For now we’re safe, but that doesn’t mean that over billions of years that our planet couldn’t suffer the same fate as Mars. But, it’s one more reason to keep a wary eye on the horizon the next time the Sun God gets angry and our satellites, cell phones, and computers start acting funny in the wake of the next inevitable solar storm.