Washington: NASA`s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station`s Complex 41 on Monday, Nov. 18.
The newest Mars mission will study the thinning of the Red Planet`s atmosphere and its surface water`s disappearance over time.
Currently several competing theories are doing the rounds to explain how Mars was stripped of its thick atmosphere some 4 billion years ago.
Joseph Grebowsky of NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md, said that the leading theory is that Mars lost its intrinsic magnetic field that was protecting the atmosphere from direct erosion by the impact of the solar wind.
The solar wind is a thin stream of electrically charged particles or plasma blowing continuously from the sun into space at about a million miles per hour.