Many already consider Mars to be the Earth’s coolest neighbor. But the red planet just got a whole lot cooler because scientists discovered that Mars has a mohawk.
THE PUNK ROCK PLANET
Data from NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft reveals that Mars might have a bit of a punk rock attitude.
The key objective of the MAVEN mission, which was launched in November, 2013, is to investigate how Mars lost most of its atmosphere. MAVEN scientists discussed early results from data collected by MAVEN at a workshop held at the Space Sciences Laboratory in Berkeley, CA June 19-21.
According to researchers, space radiation converts atoms in the upper atmosphere of Mars to electrically charged ions. And these charged ions are stripped away from the upper atmosphere by the electric and magnetic forces in solar winds, which would explain the thinning of the Martian atmosphere over time.
Scientists have been studying plumes of atmospheric particles at the planet’s poles. And, based on theoretical models, they believe the forces in solar winds might push ions towards one pole or the other. “When tracing particle trajectories in the models, the plume looks a bit like a mohawk,” says MAVEN scientist David Brain.
COPYING THE MOHAWK GUY?
This is not the first time a mohawk has been associated with Mars.
In 2012, JPL flight engineer Bobak Ferdowsi took some of the spotlight away from the successful landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. During NASA TV’s live broadcast of the historic event, Ferdowsi was positioned prominently in front of the camera. And he was sporting a mohawk. The media loved it, and his hairstyle made almost as many headlines as the rover’s landing. The flood of media attention resulted in his becoming known as “The Mohawk Guy.”
Ferdowsi even posted on Twitter in response to the news that he and Mars share the same hairstyle.
I suppose it was only a matter of time between me & Marvin the Martian that we see a real Mars mohawk. https://t.co/ZOrynx2nlp
— Bobak Ferdowsi (@tweetsoutloud) June 20, 2015
MAVEN continues studying the atmosphere of Mars in order to better understand the planet’s history and potential habitability. Its mission was scheduled to run through November, 2015. But its success has resulted in the extension of the mission through September 2016.