MAY 10, 2016 07:53 PM PDT

Atomic Oxygen Found in Martian Atmosphere for First Time in 4 Decades

NASA Scientists have, for the first time in four decades, successfully identified atomic oxygen in the atmosphere of the red planet using the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

The last time any traces of atomic oxygen were sampled in the Martian atmosphere was in the 1970’s and it seemed to have gone missing ever since.
 

Mars once again reveals its atomic oxygen to researchers


The oxygen molecules found in the top layers of the red planet’s atmosphere present new questions and answers that we may have for the red planet, and also may provide clues about the red planet’s formation in our solar system and its history.
 
In terms of history, we understand that Mars may have had a thick atmosphere just like that of the Earth at one point, but after so much solar radiation stripping it away from a below-par magnetic field to protect it, Mars has a very bare atmosphere now.
 
Unlike the Earth, which has an abundance of oxygen and other gasses that make up the air we breathe, the existence of atomic oxygen in the Martian atmosphere isn't the same. This discovery doesn’t mean that humans could walk on the surface of the red planet and just start breathing like they do here on Earth.
 
The atmospheric composition on Mars is still very different, and Mars’ atmosphere is nearly nonexistent from a nearly dead magnetic field that no longer protects the red planet from harmful radiation from the Sun.
 
Oxygen molecules there are few and far in between, as made evident from its nearly 40-year hide-and-go-seek.
 
With this information, NASA hopes to better understand the past of the planet’s atmosphere, which may provide clues as to why the planet is so dry and desolate today. It may also help answer the question of, ‘is or was there ever life on Mars?’
 
Source: NASA via Business Insider

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 29, 2018
Algae in Space: A Potential Food and Fuel Source?
During SpaceX’s recent CRS-15 launch, a mission to resupply the International Space Station with fresh supplies, the commercial space company’s...
JUL 30, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 30, 2018
Terraforming Mars Not Possible With Current Technology, Study Suggests
Mars is a bleak and lifeless place today, at least when compared to Earth’s standards. With that in mind, it’d take significant efforts to make...
JUL 31, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 31, 2018
Underground Lake of Briny Water Detected on Mars
There’s seemingly endless evidence that water once flowed on the Martian surface, and in addition to that, many theories exist concerning the presenc...
SEP 02, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 02, 2018
International Space Station Crew Repairs Small Air Leak
The International Space Station is an Earth-orbiting laboratory that operates in the vacuum of outer space. That said, it needs to maintain a constant air...
OCT 15, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 15, 2018
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is Back Up and Running
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was recently kicked into safe mode following a mysterious anomaly. Spacecraft engineers have been working around the...
NOV 03, 2018
Earth & The Environment
NOV 03, 2018
The battle of the scientists vs. Hawaiin conservationists, featuring: a telescope
The controversy between Hawaiian conservationists and scientists intensifies with the Supreme Court’s recent approval of the 18-story Thirty Meter Te...
Loading Comments...