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Close comet flyby threw Mars’ magnetic field into chaos

10 March 2016 Astronomy Now

The close encounter between comet Siding Spring and Mars in October 2014 flooded the planet with an invisible tide of charged particles from the comet’s coma, according to data from NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. The comet’s powerful magnetic field temporarily merged with, and overwhelmed, the planet’s weak field.

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Solving the mystery of how Mars’ moon Phobos formed

1 March 2016 Astronomy Now

In late November and early December 2015, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission made a series of close approaches to the Martian moon Phobos. Among the data returned were spectral images of Phobos in the ultraviolet. The images will allow MAVEN scientists to better assess the composition of this enigmatic object, whose origin is unknown.

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MAVEN reveals speed of solar wind stripping Martian atmosphere

6 November 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today. Researchers have determined the rate at which the Martian atmosphere is losing gas to space via stripping by the solar wind and that the erosion increases significantly during solar storms.

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MAVEN begins science mission at Mars

18 November 2014 Stephen Clark

NASA’s newest Mars orbiter has formally started a one-year research campaign to study an ancient case of climate change that starved the red planet of water, breathable air and potential life, scientists said Monday.

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Mars spacecraft safe after fortuitous comet encounter

20 October 2014 Stephen Clark

A fleet of robotic spacecraft orbiting Mars got a front row seat to space history Sunday and lived to tell about it, giving scientists their first close-up look at a comet fresh from a cloud of primordial mini-worlds at the outer reaches of the solar system.