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Unlocking the Mystery of Mars’ Atmosphere: EPIC Find by European Space Agency!

Unlocking the Mystery of Mars’ Atmosphere: EPIC Find by European Space Agency!

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Exploring the Mysteries of Mars

Whispers from outer space never stop. They are echoes of the past that break the sidereal silence. So charged with energy, so empty of everything and nothing at all. Like a giant cardboard box that plays at being infinite and keeps expanding. Homer Simpson said that the universe was like a donut; and if so, each of the colored shavings that adorn it are the planets, stars and satellites that make up that strange galactic melody. Each one has its own history, and it is vestiges of those that sometimes slip through the galactic black. One of the most frequent ones is Mars.

Investigating Life on Mars

Investigations into the possibility that at some time life would have roamed freely on the surface of the neighboring Martian are more than frequent. Studies are piling up. Some speak of ancient rivers, dry for many suns. Others come out of its geology. And the most recent one points to its atmosphere as the telltale of those years buried in red sand.

From the Enigma of Life to a Cocktail of Sunlight

It was a discovery of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), of the European Space Agency, which corroborates the theory that scientists had already considered previously. And on this occasion, the layer of gas that surrounds Mars has given them a clue that is no less than historic. It turns out that it’s formed from carbon monoxide with less heavy carbon than they expected. Right where suspicions started a year ago, when NASA’s rover Curiosity put an earthling-robotic foot on Martian lands.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem important. The typical chemical jargon that one doesn’t understand and that sounds the same as so many unpublished discoveries. However, the finding has an immediate translation: there is an explanation for certain compounds of organic matter -based on carbon- found in the soil of the red planet. They would not be indicative of life, but the result of a galactic combination: a cocktail of sunlight and intricate chemical processes.

Uncovering the Secrets of Mars

Researchers have reached this conclusion after subjecting to exhaustive analysis all the data that the TGO has been able to collect after eight dizzying orbits between March and April 2022. A kind of blind man’s buff. This is hand the NOMAD (Nadir Occultation for Mars Discovery) has played to reveal the secrets of the universe.

Understanding the Organic Matter of Mars

Shohei Aoki is the lead author of the study, published in the Planetary Science Journal. “Measuring the carbon isotopic ratio in monoxide is carbon is a powerful way to understand where the planet’s organic matter comes from and reveal the habitability history of Mars”, he said, capturing in a few pages the echoes of its planetary past.

The scientific background of the research is simpler than the chemical compositions suggest. There are two types of carbon isotopes in the atmosphere: 12 and 13. The first is more predominant; the second, heavier. It is only a question of measuring the relative abundance of the isotopes, and the result speaks for itself. When the rover landed in Gale Crater, the many deposits there made the job of writing a book 3.5 billion years later an ‘easy’ task.

A New Direction

“Any phenomenon on Mars that could be caused by life is cause for enthusiasm, but our findings point in a different direction”, added the report co-author, Yuichiro Ueno. A chemical path is followed, which in reality is an endless path of effects and consequences. Like on earth. Like in that pink donut.

Conclusion

The exploration of Mars has always been a subject of interest for scientists and researchers. The latest discovery regarding the organic matter on Mars provides valuable insight into the planet’s history. Although the findings do not indicate the presence of life, they shed light on the complex chemical processes and highlight the potential for further investigation into the mysteries of the red planet.

FAQ

What is ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)?

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is a spacecraft of European Space Agency designed to study the atmosphere of Mars.

What is NOMAD?

NOMAD (Nadir Occultation for Mars Discovery) is a sample analysis instrument used by ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter to study the Mars atmosphere.

What is the significance of carbon isotopic ratio?

Measuring carbon isotopic ratio is a powerful way to understand where the planet’s organic matter comes from and reveal the habitability history of Mars.

Does the latest discovery indicate the presence of life on Mars?

The discovery sheds light on the complex chemical processes and highlights the potential for further investigation into the mysteries of the red planet. However, the findings do not indicate the presence of life.

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