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Last Post 10/25/2013 8:37 AM by  Kris Sigsbee
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10/25/2013 6:05 AM

    katie & melissa (rm)

    HI, We seen the movie Knowing (Nicholas Cage), and it has a connection to do with the sun. could something like thatreally happen, where a super-flare could hit earth and destory the ozone layer? thanks so much...

    Tags: Mars, super-flare, MAVEN, Mars Global Surveyor, Movie Science, Mars Express

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/25/2013 8:37 AM

    Hi Katie and Melissa!

    Paulett Liewer actually answered a related question on Wednesday. You can check out her answer here:

    Scientists have not found any evidence that super-flares have ever happened on our Sun, so we don't need to worry about a super-flare destroying the Earth's atmosphere, like in the movie "Knowing." Eventually, our Sun will expand into a red giant type star and engulf the Earth, but that will not happen for billions of years, so we don't need to lose any sleep tonight over that happening, either.

    Even though we don't have to worry about superflares or the Sun turning into a red giant any time soon, the solar wind still can affect the atmospheres of the planets. Earth's magnetosphere protects us from certain solar wind effects, but this may not be the case for Mars. Mars does not have a strong, global magnetic field like the Earth does. Data from the Mars Global Surveyor and other missions to Mars have shown that because the Martian magnetic field is so weak and patchy, the solar wind can penetrate into the upper layers of the Martian atmosphere. These missions have found some evidence that the Martian atmosphere is slowly being blown away by the solar wind. However, it is not clear how important this effect is. If the atmospheric loss rates measured by the Mars Express mission occurred throughout Mars’ four billion year history, they would not have been enough to erode away the ancient Martian atmosphere, which scientists believe was much thicker than it is today. Understanding the effects of the solar wind on the Martian atmosphere is one of the goals of NASA's upcoming MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) Mission. You can read more about MAVEN here:


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