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Modeling an Exoplanetary ‘Mars’

14 Dec 2017, 15:48 UTC
Modeling an Exoplanetary ‘Mars’
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Until we can start observing the atmospheres of rocky worlds around red dwarf stars, we’re left to extrapolate conditions there as best we can. New work discussed at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union on Dec. 13 recounts one such attempt, using the planet Mars as a surrogate for a similar world in habitable zone orbit around an M-dwarf. The work draws on data from the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission, launched in 2013 and now orbiting the Red Planet. Designed to study the deterioration of its atmosphere over time, MAVEN offers insights into exoplanets that are derived from plugging in different stellar values.

Image: To receive the same amount of starlight as Mars receives from our Sun, a planet orbiting an M-type red dwarf would have to be positioned much closer to its star than Mercury is to the Sun. Credit: NASA/GSFC.
MAVEN co-investigator David Brain (University of Colorado, Boulder) discussed MAVEN data at the meeting, noting that the planet has lost the bulk of its atmosphere to space through a combination of physical and chemical factors. Aiding the study have been periods of higher and lower solar activity, which have subjected Mars to ...

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