Solar flares: Be glad you’re on Earth, not Mars (+video) The Christian Science Monitor

When solar storms strike Earth, as they have this week, the planet’s magnetic field is a first line of defense against fast-moving clouds of charged particles hurtling from the sun. A new study hints at how important that line of defense is in fostering a livable planet.
During a bout of turbulence in the solar wind in 2008, researchers found that Mars lost oxygen atoms in its atmosphere 10 times faster than did Earth – an observation the team attributes at least in part to the relative strength of each planet’s magnetic field. It marks the first time researchers have measured the effects of the solar wind on two planets at the same time and under the same windy conditions, and there is hope that the study can be extended to Venus, which has no magnetic field at all.