Reports Detail Mars Rover Clues to Atmospheres Past | NASA

PASADENA, Calif. – A pair of new papers report measurements of the Martian atmospheres composition by NASAs Curiosity rover, providing evidence about loss of much of Mars original atmosphere.Curiositys Sample Analysis at Mars SAM suite of laboratory instruments inside the rover has measured the abundances of different gases and different isotopes in several samples of Martian atmosphere. Isotopes are variants of the same chemical element with different atomic weights due to having different numbers of neutrons, such as the most common carbon isotope, carbon-12, and a heavier stable isotope, carbon-13.SAM checked ratios of heavier to lighter isotopes of carbon and oxygen in the carbon dioxide that makes up most of the planets atmosphere. Heavy isotopes of carbon and oxygen are both enriched in todays thin Martian atmosphere compared with the proportions in the raw material that formed Mars, as deduced from proportions in the sun and other parts of the solar system. This provides not only supportive evidence for the loss of much of the planets original atmosphere, but also a clue to how the loss occurred.

via Reports Detail Mars Rover Clues to Atmospheres Past | NASA.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s