With the most classical of globalwarmist sleight-of-hand, a Nov 6 press release by NASA titled “A Tale of Planetary Woe” surreptitiously changed the focus of MAVEN, a whole new mission to Mars scheduled to reach the planet in 2014.
Look at the following words:
Why did Mars dry up and freeze over? […] One way or another, scientists believe, Mars must have lost its most precious asset: its thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide. CO2 in Mars’s atmosphere is a greenhouse gas, just as it is in our own atmosphere. A thick blanket of CO2 and other greenhouse gases would have provided the warmer temperatures and greater atmospheric pressure required to keep liquid water from freezing solid or boiling away.
Alas, the feeling didn’t survive a quick investigation about MAVEN…
For example, from the MAVEN Fact Sheet, “Science Objectives”:
Determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere ot space has played through time, allowing us to understand the histories of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability
No mention of CO2 or of blankets. And no mention of them in the MAVEN mission page either:
Mars once had a denser atmosphere that supported the presence of liquid water on the surface. As part of a dramatic climate change, most of the Martian atmosphere was lost. MAVEN will make definitive scientific measurements of present-day atmospheric loss that will offer clues about the planet’s history.
The Principal Investigator for MAVEN is renowned Mars expert Dr Bruce M Jakosky of the University of Colorado (can be seen in a video at this page). I haven’t been able to find anything abour Dr Jakosky showing any specific interest in an ancient “thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide” with or without greenhouse warming characteristics.
Given also the amount of time needed to put together a space mission, and the various review stages any proposal has to go through, we can safely consider any newly-found CO2 focus for MAVEN as an artifact introduced by whomever decided the gist of the Nov 6 NASA press release.
And luckily so: there is very little we know about the Martian atmosphere, hence any undue assumption such as obsessing with CO2 as a greenhouse gas would risk making us miss out important observations.