NASA scientists are preparing for solar storms

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When a series of these solar events erupts, it’s called a solar storm.
But Mars lost its global magnetic field long ago, leaving the Red Planet more vulnerable to the Sun’s energetic particles.
Curry is principal investigator for NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiter, which is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“I’d actually love to see the ‘big one’ at Mars this year — a large event that we can study to understand solar radiation better before astronauts go to Mars.” Measuring High and Low MAVEN observes radiation, solar particles, and more from high above Mars.
The instrument has also provided NASA with an idea of how much shielding from radiation astronauts could expect by using caves, lava tubes, or cliff faces for protection.
When a solar event occurs, scientists look both at the quantity of solar particles and how energetic they are.
Scientists wonder whether global dust storms help to eject this water vapor, lofting it high above the planet, where the atmosphere gets stripped away during solar storms.
Additional information about the missions can be found at: and


Two NASA Mars spacecraft will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to investigate how solar flares, which are massive explosions on the surface of the Sun, might impact robots and future astronauts on the Red Planet in the coming months.

This is due to the Sun entering solar maximum, a period of maximum activity that happens about every 11 years. The Sun is particularly prone to violent outbursts during solar maximum, which can take many different forms and send radiation shooting into deep space, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. A solar storm is created when several of these solar occurrences occur simultaneously.

The impacts of these storms are mostly prevented from reaching Earth by the magnetic field. However, Mars’s global magnetic field vanished ages ago, making the Red Planet more susceptible to solar particle energy. Scientists are hoping that the current solar maximum will provide an opportunity to investigate the exact level of solar activity that occurs on Mars. Space agencies need to decide what kind of radiation protection astronauts would need before sending humans there, among many other things.

“We do not have a firm grasp on the impact of radiation during solar activity on humans and assets on the Martian surface,” stated Shannon Curry of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, oversees the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter, of which Curry is the principal investigator. Before astronauts travel to Mars this year, I’d really really love to witness the ‘big one’ there—a sizable event that we can study to gain a better understanding of solar radiation. “.

Taking High and Low Measurements.

High above Mars, MAVEN monitors radiation, solar particles, and other phenomena. When the particles reach the surface, the planet’s thin atmosphere can alter their intensity, which is where NASA’s Curiosity rover comes into play. Scientists have gained an understanding of how radiation breaks down carbon-based molecules on the surface of Curiosity through data from the Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD. This understanding could have an impact on whether or not ancient microbial life signs are preserved on the surface. Additionally, the instrument has given NASA an estimate of the amount of radiation shielding that astronauts using cliff faces, caves, or lava tubes could expect.

Scientists examine the amount and energy of solar particles at the time of a solar event.

RAD’s principal investigator, Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute’s Boulder, Colorado office, stated, “You can have a million particles with low energy or 10 particles with extremely high energy.”. The only instrument that can detect high-energy particles that pass through the atmosphere and reach the surface, where astronauts would be, is RAD. MAVEN’s instruments are more sensitive to lower-energy particles. “.

MAVEN’s orbiter team notifies the Curiosity team when it detects a large solar flare so that they can monitor any changes in RAD data. Even as particles enter the Martian atmosphere, interact with it, and ultimately hit the surface, the two missions are able to put together a time series that measures changes down to the half-second.

Additionally, the MAVEN mission is in charge of an early warning system that alerts other Mars spacecraft teams when radiation levels start to rise. By turning off instruments that might be susceptible to solar flares, which can disrupt radio transmission and electronics, missions are able to compensate for the warning.

Water lost.

Studying solar maximum may help explain why, billions of years ago, Mars was a warm, wet planet similar to Earth instead of the icy desert it is today, in addition to contributing to the safety of humans and spacecraft.

The planet is in an orbital phase where it is closest to the Sun, which causes the atmosphere to warm. That may result in massive dust storms that cover the entire surface. Storms can occasionally combine to become worldwide.

Some water still circulates as vapor in the atmosphere of Mars, despite the planet mostly being made of ice at the poles and beneath the surface. It is a mystery to scientists whether the world’s dust storms, which lift water vapor high above the Earth during solar storms, aid in its ejection. If this process is carried out repeatedly over eons, it could potentially explain how Mars’s water supply changed from lakes and rivers to almost nothing at all.

There would be a chance to test that theory if a solar storm and a global dust storm coincided. Although this solar maximum coincides with the beginning of Mars’s dustiest season, which excites scientists even more, they are also aware of how uncommon worldwide dust storms are.

More About the Missions.

MAVEN is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center located in Greenbelt, Maryland. The mission is managed by Lockheed Martin Space, which also constructed the spacecraft. Deep Space Network support and navigation are provided by JPL. The University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics is in charge of overseeing science operations as well as communications with the general public.

Located in Pasadena, California, and overseen by Caltech, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory constructed Curiosity. On behalf of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, JPL is in charge of the mission. The Heliophysics System Observatory (HSO) of NASA, which is part of the NASA Heliophysics Division, provides support for the RAD investigation.

More details regarding the missions are available at:.

You can access Maven at


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