Atomic Oxygen Detected on Mars
By all the scientific studies so far, we come to know that we are the only habitable planet in the entire Solar System. Life has yet to be discovered elsewhere, but Mars is a quite good bet even today. Its surface possesses salty, liquid water. Though it contains thin and insubstantial atmosphere, microbial life could hang about within the deposits, where it is protected from inbound solar radiation.
But, as researchers are constantly realizing, Mars was probably once way more livable. Current data from Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution of NASA exposed that its atmosphere which was thick once, and apprehended in place by an uncertain magnetosphere, was stripped away due to major solar storms. Presently, another mission by NASA known as SOFIA – has come to know that there are atomic oxygen traces still remaining in the gaseous cloak that environs the Red Planet.
It was Viking and Mariner missions who discovered the Atomic oxygen first time in the Martian atmosphere. It was around 40 years back, but scientists fail to pick that up. According to SOFIA project scientist, Pamela Marcum, atomic oxygen is extremely hard to measure in the Martian atmosphere.
SOFIA, an airborne observatory connected to a Boeing 747SP, watches at the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is intended to concentrate into the hearts of stars, the atmospheres of planets, the intricate clouds of planetary nebulae, both outdoor of the Solar System and those exactly near to us. In order to witness the far-infrared wavelengths required to sense atomic oxygen, scientists must be right over the major proportion of Earth’s atmosphere and utilize extremely sensitive tools, for example a spectrometer, said Marcum. SOFIA delivers both competences. Flying amid 11.3km and 13.7km above ground, dedicated detectors were capable to detect atomic oxygen in the Mars’ mesosphere, approving it as not just a mistaken discovery of Earth’s far more plentiful atmospheric oxygen. The data from SOFIA was printed in the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal.
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Though this atomic oxygen is very different from the quantity of molecular, breathable oxygen (O2) observed on a planet enclosed in photosynthesizing plants and bacteria like ours, its detection is nevertheless important. It is the main element regulating numerous atmospheric procedures, including mass and energy flow out and into the planet; moreover, it regulates how much heat goes astray from carbon dioxide of Mars. Eventually, its occurrence effects how quick the atmosphere is vanishing into space. Exploring the atomic oxygen section of the Martian atmosphere will permit scientists to have a clear understanding of why it was all but demolished over the last some billion years.
The amount of oxygen found is half the amount that was expected to be there, but they hold, the natural disparities in the atmosphere of Martian, responsible for this. Researchers yet do not exactly know where this atomic oxygen instigated from, but as it is the 3rd most plentiful element in the world; its detection was not completely surprising.
It is important to note that Mars’ ancient atmosphere possibly got far more oxygen as compared to what it presently has. Whether it was made by chemical reactions in the atmosphere, or primeval life at its surface, is presently mysterious.