NASA experts have discovered a strange “anomaly” in the seasonal behavior of gases filling the atmosphere above the surface of Gale crater on Mars. The study was conducted by analyzing the samples six years collecting Curiosity Rover.
The data allowed scientists to understand how to mix and circulate the air on Mars is in accordance with the pressure changes during the year.
As you know, the atmosphere of the red planet on 95% consists of carbon dioxide, 2.6% of molecular nitrogen, 1.9% of argon, 0.16% of molecular oxygen and 0.06 percent carbon monoxide.
Winter at the poles, carbon dioxide freezes, which reduces the pressure of the atmosphere and redistributes the molecules. In spring and summer, the carbon dioxide evaporates and the pressure increases again.
The obtained data showed that nitrogen and argon do behave according to this pattern. Scientists believed that the oxygen does the same, but I was wrong.
It was found that the amount of this gas in air increases in the spring and summer by as much as 30%, and then drops to the predicted level in the fall. This is repeated every spring, and the amount entering the atmosphere of oxygen varies, as if something it produces, and then consumes.
“When we first saw it, we were just shocked,” said one of the study’s authors Sushil atreya.
It is noted that after the discovery of a strange “oxygen anomaly”, the experts several times and rechecked the results of the samples, but found no errors.
Then considered the possibility that molecules of carbon dioxide or water, release oxygen, during the process of splitting in the atmosphere. But for this amount of oxygen would require five times more water than there is on the planet surface, as carbon dioxide dissolves too slowly. Solar radiation is also not so fast to break down oxygen molecules into two atoms, it takes at least ten years.
“The fact that the behavior of the oxygen is repeated every time of year makes us think that the reason is not in atmospheric dynamics, ‒ said Melissa Trainer of NASA. ‒ Must be a chemical source, which we have not yet discovered”.