Monday, April 29, 2024

How Solar Storms This Year Will Help Future Mars Astronauts | NASA/JPL

How Solar Storms This Year Will Help Future Mars Astronauts | NASA/JPL

Mars Report - April 2024: The Sun’s activity will be at its peak in 2024, providing a rare opportunity to study how solar storms and radiation could affect future astronauts and robots on Mars. This peak period—called solar maximum—will be observed by NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmospheric and Volatiles EvolutioN) orbiter and Curiosity rover. Learn how both spacecraft have a big year ahead in this video featuring MAVEN Principal Investigator Shannon Curry of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Solar maximum occurs roughly every 11 years. During this period, the Sun is especially prone to throwing fiery tantrums in a variety of forms, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These events launch radiation deep into space. When a series of these solar events erupt, it’s called a solar storm.

Earth’s magnetic field largely shields our home planet from the effects of these storms. But Mars lost its global magnetic field long ago, leaving the Red Planet more vulnerable to the Sun’s energetic particles. Researchers are excited to potentially gather data on just how intense solar activity can get at Mars. Among the preparations space agencies will need to make for sending humans to the Red Planet is what kind of radiation protection astronauts would require. 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the MAVEN mission.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California leads the Curiosity mission.

Learn more:

For more information on MAVEN, go to:

Video Credit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Duration: 2 minutes, 27 seconds

Release Date: April 29, 2024

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