NASA's MAVEN mission is expected to investigate the mystery of how ancient Mars went from being a wet world to the cold, dry desert it is now. The MAVEN (short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) probe will investigate the Red Planet's thin atmosphere, searching for signs of how the planet became what it is today. See the latest MAVEN news, photos and video here.
The space agency is asking American companies to suggest design ideas for the possible robotic Mars orbiter, which would launch in the 2020s to capture high-resolution imagery and provide increased data-relay capabilities back to Earth.
The magnetic field of Mars merged with and was overwhelmed by the magnetic field of a passing comet in October 2014. The interaction likely triggered the loss of a chunk of upper Martian atmosphere, scientists said.
New results from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft suggest that Mars lost most of its atmosphere — which had kept the Red Planet relatively warm and allowed it to support liquid surface water — to space about 3.7 billion years ago.