NASA researchers are puzzled by the shifting levels of oxygen on Mars as the gas tends to appear and disappear without reason.
The Curiosity rover has spent a significant amount of time on the Red Planet, and send back a large amount of data. Some of the data infer that high levels of methane were recorded on the planet and NASA cannot explain the reason. Some tests have been conducted in an attempt to learn more about it.
Curiosity harnesses an advanced tool to analyze the air and provide information about the gases that are present. It seems that the background levels of some gases tend to increase or decrease according to seasonal change in a fashion similar to what happens on Earth.
The air on Mars is rich in carbon dioxide, with a concentration of 95% being present in the atmosphere while the other 5% is represented by a blend of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and argon. The concentrations of these gases were observed over six years, and the researchers observed some anomalies related to oxygen.
Among the interesting discoveries, we can count the fact that nitrogen and argon tend to follow a regular pattern as they vary in accordance with how much CO2 is present in the air. It was thought that oxygen should follow the same rules, but this was not the case as the levels rose during spring and summer and fell when autumn arrived.
It was theorized that the CO2 or water molecules could have released the gas when they decomposed in the atmosphere, but the amount of water needed for this phenomenon would be up to 5 times higher in comparison to the one present on Mars at this point. The decrease may have been influenced by the destruction of oxygen molecules due to solar radiation, but the process should have been lengthier.
Further research could surface in the future.
Ethelene is the main editor on DualDove, she likes to write on the latest science news.