Published: Fri, November 15, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA's Curiosity rover makes a baffling oxygen discovery on Mars

NASA's Curiosity rover makes a baffling oxygen discovery on Mars

The info revealed that on the floor, 95% of the environment is carbon dioxide, adopted by 2.6% molecular nitrogen, 1.9% argon, 0.16% oxygen, and 0.06% carbon monoxide.

Over the course of the year, it is said that the atmospheric pressure in air changes. In the planet's winter hemisphere, Carbon dioxide freezes over the pole, creating an atmospheric pressure drop, which in turn causes gas redistribution planet wide. It evaporates in the spring and summer, however, raising the air pressure again.

During the study that spanned over three Martian years, experts noted that gases like nitrogen and argon behaved predictably throughout the year.

Nasa has spotted unexpected and inexplicable changes in the oxygen on Mars.

But when SAM analyzed the oxygen levels in the crater, the results were mystifying: The oxygen levels rose much higher than expected - as much as 30% of its baseline levels in the spring and summer - and then dropped to levels lower than predicted in the winter. This weird pattern kept repeating, showing that something unexplainable was producing oxygen and then removing it from the Martian atmosphere.

"The first time we saw that, it was just mind boggling", said Sushil Atreya, study author on a new paper about the oxygen levels and professor of climate and space sciences at the University of MI.

"We can get wonderful high-resolution images and compositional data from orbit, but there's a limit on what we can discern in terms of how these minerals formed", Tarnas said. From the measurement, it is construed that the oxygen levels are up and down and not aligning with any chemical processes known before though oxygen is not the much available gas in the mars.

On board the rover (which is the size of a small car) is an instrument that monitors the amount of various substances in the atmosphere and how they change seasonally.

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The SAM instrument itself is well calibrated and the readings are fine, NASA says. As well, these same deposits will help shed light on the transition that took place from Mars' time as a planet with water to the dusty desert we know it as today.

What about the oxygen decrease?

The origin of the methane or oxygen won't be evident because the rover doesn't have any instruments that can trace or determine the source.

"We're struggling to explain this,"said planetary scientist Melissa Trainer of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center".

'It need to be some chemical source and sink that we can't but sage for'. Now various oxygen has joined on Mars methane mystery bucket.

While both gases can be produced organically, they can also both be produced geologically, so it may not indicate life on Mars just yet. Still, it's been measured by SAM's Tunable Laser Spectrometer.

As the two gases appear to fluctuate in tandem, what's driving methane's natural seasonal variations may also be driving oxygen's cycle too. No, scientists concluded, since it would take at least 10 years for the oxygen to disappear through this process.

"We're beginning to see this tantalizing correlation between methane and oxygen for a good part of the Mars year", Atreya said.

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