Mars' atmosphere 'gone with the solar wind': NASANASA's Mars-orbiting has MAVEN spacecraft documented a solar storm blasting away Mars' atmosphere, an important clue in a long-standing mystery of how a planet that was once like Earth turned into a cold, dry desert, research published last week shows. Scientists say the planet once had plenty of liquid water carving its surface and providing a chance for life to exist. But, but they aren't sure whether the water escaped into the atmosphere or it is locked in ice beneath the planet's surface.
■Class discussion: Why did solar winds blow away Mars' atmosphere but not that of the Earth? What protects our atmosphere and us from the solar winds? How are lights that often appear in the skies near the north and south poles related to solar wind and the force that protects the Earth? What problems do the radiation spikes from solar storms sometimes cause for us on Earth? How are spacecraft and astronauts affected by solar radiation? Could spacecraft ever sail on the solar wind?