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November 05, 2015

NASA to make big announcement on Mars' atmosphere

Findings likely tied to MAVEN Spacecraft findings

Just a little more than a month after revealing the existence of summertime water flows on Mars, NASA is slated to make another major announcement the Red Planet, this time concerning the evolution of its atmosphere.

The U.S. space agency said Wednesday it will hold a Thursday press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. ET at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Specific details on the announcement were not provided, but as with the discovery of the water slopes, the list of participants at the news conference suggests the agency will reveal discoveries made by its Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft.

The MAVEN entered Mars' upper atmosphere in September 2014 with a mission to examine how the planet evolved from warm, wet conditions to its present status as a dry, cold planet.

Attendees at the news conference include the authors of a paper discussing how ion escape rate, or particles leaving the planet's atmosphere, may have contributed to climate change on Mars over the past 4 million years. Gas loss is also believed to have been another crucial factor, according to CNN.

The findings could help explain how Mars' climate evolution has impacted its habitability and the presence of water.

The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television and its website. Those with questions can pose them to the agency on social media using #AskNASA.