NASA Rover Observes Change In Oxygen Levels On Mars - Is Life Possible?


NASA scientists have discovered a seasonal change in the climate of Mars. According to the report, some changes in the gases above the Gale crater have been observed. NASA scientists noticed a change in behavior of oxygen levels in the atmosphere of the Red Planet. Here are more details:

NASA Rover Observes Change In Oxygen Levels On Mars - Is Life Possible


"For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars. As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes." reads the official website.

NASA's Curiosity rover is equipped with Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) portable chemistry lab which is responsible for noticing the changes in the climate of Mars.

"The results SAM spit out confirmed the makeup of the Martian atmosphere at the surface: 95% by volume of carbon dioxide (CO2), 2.6% molecular nitrogen (N2), 1.9% argon (Ar), 0.16% molecular oxygen (O2), and 0.06% carbon monoxide (CO)," reads the official website.

The atmospheric pressure on the Red Planet is different from Earth and it changes in different periods. For example Carbon dioxide freezes during winter which causes a press drop on the hemisphere. During spring, the pressure went up in the hemisphere due to melting of carbon dioxide. However, the atmospheric gases with the change of time get stabilized in the atmosphere.


Based on the study on the behavior of carbon dioxide, researchers have come to a point where they can predict the level of other gases on the Red Planet. According to them, normally the amount of oxygen witnesses a hike of 30 percent during autumn. The changes with the level of oxygen were observed every year and all the time the numbers are different.

"We're beginning to see this tantalizing correlation between methane and oxygen for a good part of the Mars year," Sushil Atreya, professor of climate and space sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said. "I think there's something to it. I just don't have the answers yet. Nobody does."

According to Atreya, there is a correlation between the levels of methane and oxygen on Mars which is causing fluctuation in the level both the gases. However, researchers are still not able to come up with a technique which will separate both the gases and check the oxygen quantity.

Melissa Trainer lead author of Study said, "We're struggling to explain this, The fact that the oxygen behavior isn't perfectly repeatable every season makes us think that it's not an issue that has to do with atmospheric dynamics. It has to be some chemical source and sink that we can't yet account for."

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