Watch: NASA Announcement on the Fate of Mars' Atmosphere

1105-15 MAVEN
This image shows an artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

"Did Mars once look more like Earth?" teases a tweet sent Wednesday from NASA's official account. We may soon find out. The agency is scheduled to announce "key science findings" on the "fate of Mars' atmosphere" Thursday afternoon, according to a press release published earlier this week.

The news conference included Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program; Bruce Jakes, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) principal investigator; Jasper Halekas, MAVEN Solar Wind Ion Analyzer instrument lead; Yaxue Dong, MAVEN science team member; and Dave Brain, MAVEN co-investigator.

As the roster suggests, the announcement will be based on findings from MAVEN, which was launched in November of 2013 and recently celebrated one year in orbit around the red planet. "MAVEN will help scientists understand the climate history of Mars," according to the mission description. "How did a planet once possibly habitable to microbial life turn into a cold and barren desert world? What role did the solar wind have in stripping away the atmosphere?" A Tumblr post NASA published ahead of the announcement gives some additional background on the planet's history and MAVEN's objectives.

NASA's press release describing Thursday's announcement says little else, but its tweet hints at the direction of the findings, as does a tweet from the MAVEN mission account:

#MAVEN is on a mission to determine how #Mars lost its early atmosphere, and with it, its water. | https://t.co/wL0DxQ7N6m @NASAGoddard

— NASA's MAVEN Mission (@MAVEN2Mars) November 4, 2015

The news conference will be livestreamed via NASA Television, and the public can ask questions using the hashtag #AskNASA. Watch the 2 p.m. announcement here: