It’s been revealed that NASA‘s Curiosity found an unexpected seasonal variation to the oxygen that’s found on Mars.
Curiosity has been retuning some pretty interesting results back home. After it was able to locate methane on the planet, studies coming from its spot in the Gale crater have found regular charges to the methane that has not been explained by the environmental factors, according to the latest reports coming from Gizmodo.
It’s also worth noting that the oxygen has joined methane in the bag of mysteries that are lying there.
Significant seasonal and interannual variability
In a paper that has been just published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, experts wrote that oxygen has shown “significant seasonal and interannual variability, suggesting an unknown atmospheric or surface process at work.”
It’s important to note the fact that Mars just like our planet, it tilted on the axis of rotation.
In other words, the northern and southern hemispheres are experiencing seasons just like our planet does.
The online publication mentioned above explains this: “summer when the hemisphere points toward the Sun and winter when it points away from the Sun.”
Experts have been using Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument in order to monitor the abundance of molecules in the planet’s atmosphere and the way in which they are changing with the seasons.
Now, scientists have finally released the results of five Earth years which mean three in Mars years of data tracking.
Strange oxygen behavior
“The SAM measurements of [oxygen] in Gale crater do not show the annual stability or seasonal patterns that would be predicted based on the known sources and sinks in the atmosphere,” the authors have written in the study.
The study’s first author Melissa Trainer stated the following:
“The fact that oxygen behavior isn’t perfectly repeatable every season makes us think that it’s not an issue that has to do with atmospheric dynamics. It has to be some chemical source and sink that we can’t yet account for.”
Head over to the results in order to find out more details.