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Physics Dept Colloquia - How Mars Lost Its Atomosphere (What we think and know in 2021)

When: Thursday, April 15, 2021
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Where: Online
Description: The UMASS Dartmouth Physics Department Colloquia

A weekly seminar series of fully online colloquia featuring speakers from around the globe.

Date: Thursday, April 15, 2021

Time: 2:00pm

Zoom Link: https://umassd.zoom.us/j/98360315189?pwd=VktzWEJFZXF4bUMxUStUbEdiOE56dz09

Title: How Mars Lost Its Atmosphere (What we know and think in 2021)

Speaker: Marko Gacesa, Khalifa University, Department of Physics

Abstract:

The Mars atmosphere is believed to have been stripped away by the sun and the solar wind over time, changing the climate from a warmer and wetter environment early in its history to the cold, dry climate that we observe today. Recent results from NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiter offer new insights into physical processes responsible for the atmospheric escape. More recently arrived orbiters, including ESA's Trace Gas Orbiter and UAE's Hope mission, should reveal more details about molecular escape and take us a step closer towards understanding the life cycle of water molecules in the Martian atmosphere.
In this talk, I will focus on the MAVEN mission. I will introduce its main scientific objectives and present its most important findings up to date in the context of what is presently known about the history of water of Mars. I will describe in more detail the ongoing research of photochemical escape mechanisms that play a key role in complex interactions between the upper layers of planetary atmospheres and stellar radiation and plasma. Understanding energy deposition and transport driven by such processes requires detailed cross sections for the participating atomic and molecular species in reactive and non-reactive regime at high temperatures. These quantities are still not well-known for all atmospheric species even though they are key inputs to the models used to interpret the observations and can affect long-term predictions about the evolution of the Mars' atmosphere.
Finally, I will offer some science-guided insight into the prospects of terraforming Mars in the not-so-near future.

For additional information please contact Dr. Robert Fisher (rfisher1@umassd.edu) or Dr. Renuka Rajapakse (rrajapakse@umassd.edu)
Contact: > See Description for contact information
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