About Mars and the loss of atmosphere

NASA just announced another groundbreaking discovery regarding the history of Mars.

Data from the MAVEN spacecraft revealed how Mars loses 100 grams of its atmosphere every second.

Why? solar winds, and obviously solar storms, which increase the loss rate even more.

Mars vs Solar Storm
Mars vs Solar Storm

As explained in the official article from NASA:

[quote]The solar wind is a stream of particles, mainly protons and electrons, flowing from the sun’s atmosphere at a speed of about one million miles per hour. The magnetic field carried by the solar wind as it flows past Mars can generate an electric field, much as a turbine on Earth can be used to generate electricity. This electric field accelerates electrically charged gas atoms, called ions, in Mars’ upper atmosphere and shoots them into space.[/quote]

This is, of course, an extremely interesting discovery, which helps scientists to understand how Mars lost its atmosphere.

However, browsing my news feeds, I stumbled upon a good number of misleading headlines. This is not HOW Mars lost it’s atmosphere, it’s one of the responsible factors.

Read more

Best images of an exoplanet 63 light years away

Beta Pictoris is a star located 63.4 light years from our solar system. Featuring a big debris disk orbiting around itself, the star is supposed to be 8 to 20 million years old.

On November 21, 2008, the Very Large Telescope revealed the presence of an exoplanet orbiting Beta Pictoris. On that day, this image was published by the European Southern Observatory.

First image of β Pic b
First image of β Pic b


The planet, roughly around 10-12 times the mass of Jupiter, was named “Beta pictoris b” (β Pic b). It orbits around its star at a distance of around 9 AU (1 350 000 000 Km).


The orbit of β Pic b compared with our Solar System.
The orbit of β Pic b compared with our Solar System.


A few days ago, the SETI institute released the video found at the beginning of this post. It depicts the same planet moving through 1 ½ years of its 22-year orbital period.

Here‘s the original article.

As of today, this is the best image of an exoplanet ever taken.