A Mars The part of the orbit controlled by the European Space Agency (ESA) has smelled two unprecedented chemical signature data in the atmosphere of the Red Planet. This discovery could solve the long-running mystery of Mars methane.
Both detections were obtained from ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter, which in 2016 Was released as a down payment ExoMars, the European – Russian partnership with the Red Planet was launched twice. Scientists say it is particularly strange about discoveries: they meet where scientists look for methane, the main component to Search for Life on Mars |. This unlikely combination means these compounds could prevent scientists from trying to search for methane.
“These properties are enigmatic and astonishing,”; said Kevin Olsen, a planetary scientist and project researcher at Oxford University. says the ESA statement. “They are exactly in the wavelength range where we expected to see the strongest signs of methane.”
Related: Photos: Photos from the European ExoMars mission to Mars
Scientists admire it methane (or lack thereof) on Mars because at least here on Earth, although geological processes produce little gas, most of it comes from living things. This connection makes methane a potential bosignate, a marker that there may be life nearby. The gas is also relatively short-lived, which means that if methane is observed on Mars, it must have been formed over the past few hundred years.
Researchers have tentatively identified methane on the Red Planet several times, including data NASA Curiosity Router Gathered and according to the ESA Mars Express orbit. However, these findings were vague and complex, including the often obvious discrepancies between data collected on the ground and orbit observations.
This new discovery of other gases, oddly compatible with where scientists typically look for methane, could help explain why the issue of methane in the atmosphere of Mars was so difficult to figure out, the researchers in the new study said.
Carbon dioxide and ozone are unfortunately much more common on the Red Planet than methane, and scientists have seen both compounds on both occasions – the planet’s thin atmosphere is dominated by carbon dioxide. But the Trace Gas Orbiter was able to measure them more accurately thanks to an instrument called the Atmospheric Chemistry Kit, which “tastes” the different components. enveloping Mars.
Although these compounds were previously “smelled” on Mars, these new observations are still intriguing, the researchers said. For example, a strange signal of carbon dioxide suspected by researchers may indicate a previously unknown interaction between gas and other compounds in the atmosphere or between gas and sunlight.
And while researchers usually study Ozone on Mars using ultraviolet measurements, the new detection was based on observations in infrared light. And because ultraviolet measurements only affect ozone at higher altitudes, the use of infrared devices could allow scientists to better understand how ozone responds little to the atmosphere closer to the surface of Mars.
“Ozone and [carbon dioxide] are important in the atmosphere of Mars, “said Alexander Trokhimovsky, an engineer and project researcher at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, in the same report.
Trace Gas Orbiter with the Mars rover Schiaparelli collapsed, amounted to 2016 Launch of the ESA-Russia partnership program ExoMars. The second start of the program, which includes a rover nicknamed Rosalind Franklin, was due to explode this summer, but was postponed until 2022 this spring due to parachute problems and complications from the coronavirus pandemic.
The mission will perform instruments similar to the atmospheric chemistry kit in the Trace Gas Orbiter, allowing scientists to compare orbit data with surface measurements.
The study is described du documents published in the July issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
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