Surprises from MAVEN at Mars: Aurora, meteor showers, and a new water loss paradigm

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft carries the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) to study the Mars atmosphere and atmospheric escape. After more than two Mars years in orbit, IUVS has gained new insights on key phenomena at Mars including dayglow, nightglow, aurora, meteor showers, clouds, solar-planetary interactions and atmospheric evolution. In this presentation, I will highlight three key results obtained by IUVS:

(1) Mars exhibits a surprisingly high level of auroral activity of three distinct types;

(2) Comet Siding Spring caused the solar system’s largest meteor shower in modern times;

(3) Mars dust storms dramatically enhance water loss from the planet.

I’ll conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for understanding Mars atmospheric dynamics and evolution.

17/03/2022 - 12:30
Dr. Nick Schneider
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), University of Colorado, USA