MAY 10, 2016 7:53 PM PDT

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

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
DEC 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Watching a Nebula Fade
DEC 06, 2020
Watching a Nebula Fade
Nebulas are vast clouds of dust and gas that are remnants of exploded stars or in other cases, nurseries for where stars ...
DEC 11, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
DEC 11, 2020
Cosmic Expansion: Universe Stretches, We don't
Physicists believe that we exist in an expanding universe. But what does that mean? Do our habitats, bodies, and atoms & ...
JAN 04, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Did Intelligent Civilizations Roam Our Galaxy 5 Billion Years Ago?
JAN 04, 2021
Did Intelligent Civilizations Roam Our Galaxy 5 Billion Years Ago?
Researchers have found that there were likely many intelligent alien civilizations sprawled across our galaxy billions o ...
FEB 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Where Did the Comet (or Asteroid) That Killed the Dinosaurs Originate?
FEB 17, 2021
Where Did the Comet (or Asteroid) That Killed the Dinosaurs Originate?
The Chicxulub impactor is thought to have crashed into Earth around 66 million years ago near the Mexican coast. The cra ...
APR 13, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Think again: does the presence of oxygen really mean life on other planets?
APR 13, 2021
Think again: does the presence of oxygen really mean life on other planets?
Does the presence of oxygen mean the existence of life? That’s a question that scientists have been debating over ...
MAY 21, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Oxygen Conditions Needed for Emergence of Complex Life Discovered
MAY 21, 2021
Oxygen Conditions Needed for Emergence of Complex Life Discovered
For some time, scientists have supported the ‘Oxygen Control Hypothesis’. The theory states that higher leve ...
Loading Comments...