90.7 WMFE and 89.5 WMFV are Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming and Classical Music. Part of the community since 1965, providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

NASA: Solar Winds Blowing Away Mars Atmosphere

Artist’s rendering of a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the planet's upper atmosphere. Credits: NASA/GSFC

Ever since scientists discovered evidence of water on Mars, they’ve been trying to figure out what happened to it. Now, they’re one step closer to figuring that out.

Observations from NASA’s MAVEN satellite – currently orbiting Mars – show that solar winds are blowing the atmosphere away from the planet.

It’s believed the red planet was once covered in water. But as the atmosphere went away, so did the water.

MAVEN Principle Investigator Bruce Jakowsky says the findings are important in discovering the history of Mars.

“If we want to look backward in time we can’t just extrapolate the process, the escape rate, without understanding how escape is occurring,” says Jakowsky. “For the first time we have measurements that tell us not only the escape rate of gas out the top of the atmosphere lost to space, but the processes that control it.”

Currently, the atmosphere of Mars loses about a quarter-pound of atoms each day.

The Earth is subjected to these same solar winds, but an active magnetic field protects us from atmospheric loss.

LISTEN: Jim Garvin, Chief Scientist NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, explains what MAVEN’s findings mean for future Mars exploration.

Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »