The atmospheric pressure on Mars is up to one hundred times lower than that of Earth, and a minimal amount of air is present on the planet. Oxygen represents less than 0.13% of the Martian atmosphere, but it has become a source of curiosity for researchers.
A recent paper focuses on data related to the levels of oxygen that are encountered on the planet. NASA has started to monitor the gas balance on the planet after Curiosity landed in 2012. Levels of oxygen have varied without a reasonable reason as seasons changed on the planet.
The rover discovered a large amount of methane earlier this year. This gas tends to be emitted on Earth by living creatures, yet researchers have not found any traces of life at this point. The methane bubble vanished almost immediately.
The Martian year will last for 686 days, so the researchers had to explore the variation over almost three Martian years, up to December 2017. It seems that the level of oxygen tends to rise during the spring and will falter later during the year.
Oxygen Variation on Mars Fascinates The Researchers
Carbon Dioxide is the dominant gas in the atmosphere of Mars, and some researchers believe that the oxygen is released while ultraviolet lights separate the atoms of gas into carbon monoxide and oxygen atoms.
Interaction with the water present on the ground will lead to the formation of molecular pairs of oxygen atoms.
Oxygen molecules tend to persist for over a decade in most cases, and researchers believed that oxygen levels would remain constant for a long time. Nitrogen and argon are also present, but oxygen is the only gas that appears more often during the spring.
The phenomenon is quite attractive since it offers a worthy challenge that can be explored. The cycle also tends to vary from year to year, and the cause remains a mystery. A paper was published in a scientific journal.