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NASA prepares for heightened solar storms on Mars as the solar maximum approaches

As the eagerly anticipated solar maximum approaches, NASA gears up to monitor Mars, as reported.

During this period, the solar radiation will also affect Mars, providing valuable data for the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter and Curiosity rover. These observations will enhance our understanding of Martian conditions and aid in planning future missions.

The solar maximum marks the peak of the sun’s activity every 11 years, characterized by intense magnetic field changes and solar flares emitting powerful radiation.

These events can potentially disrupt radio and communication systems on Earth. Additionally, charged particles from the sun during solar activity produce phenomena like the northern lights, or aurora borealis.

Unlike Earth, which is protected by its magnetic field, Mars lacks such shielding, rendering missions vulnerable to solar activity. Shannon Curry, principal investigator for MAVEN, expressed curiosity about experiencing a significant solar event at Mars to study its effects before human missions.

Understanding how particles interact with Mars’ atmosphere is crucial for safeguarding missions from radiation damage.

As Mars enters a season of increased proximity to the sun, known as dust season, the combination of solar flares and dust storms offers a unique opportunity for scientists to unravel the mysteries of Martian weather and terrain formation.

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