PacSci-Doku: “Martian Mystery”

By Dennis Schatz – Senior Advisor

Do you Sudoku? It’s one of the hottest number games around! Well, here’s a twist we think you’ll love. We call it PacSci-Doku. Can you guess why? Here’s how it works. Instead of filling in the blanks with numbers, we use letters. Hidden in one of the columns or rows is the answer to a science question. You’ll find information about the answer on the answer tab below.

The question in this edition is:

What solar phenomena may have stripped Mars of its water?

To find the answer, complete this PacSci-Doku using the following nine letters:

A  O  U  R  r  P  S  B  L

PacSci-Doku: Martian Mystery

Puzzle Difficulty: Hard

The Answer

PacSci-Doku: Martian Mystery

The question in this edition is:

What solar phenomena may have stripped Mars of its water?

The answer: Solar Burp

One of astronomy’s great mysteries is how Mars lost the water it once had. The Mars rover, Curiosity, found clear evidence of rivers and lakes existing on Mars in the past. Solar Burps, more technically known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), may be the cause. CMEs are large explosions on the Sun that eject high speed charged particles and magnetic fields into space. When these particles and fields smash into Mars, they set up electric fields that give energy to the atoms in the Martian atmosphere, making it easier for them to escape the Martian gravity, which is much lower than the Earth’s gravity. The Sun produced more CMEs in the past, so it may be this increased activity that stripped the water from the Martian atmosphere. Read more about the role that CMEs may have played in ridding Mars of its water.

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