Today Mars is an arid, frigid desert, suggesting that the mother of all climate changes happened there, about four billion years ago or so. The question that haunts planetary scientists is why? And could it happen here?
"I think the short story is the atmosphere went away and the oceans froze but are still there, locked up in subsurface ice," said Chris McKay, an astrobiologist and Mars expert at NASA's Ames Research Center.
In September a new spacecraft known as Maven, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, swung into orbit around the planet. Its job is to get a longer answer to one part of the mysterious Martian climate change, namely where the planet's atmosphere went.
Small volcanic eruptions account for part of the global warming slowdown since 2000, a new study suggests.
Until now, the climate impacts of small volcanic blasts were overlooked because their planet-cooling particles cluster below the reach of satellites, scientists reported Oct. 31 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. It turns out, satellites were missing about 30 percent of these particles, called aerosols, the study found.