Heat and dust help to elevate the Martian water into the atmosphere

This graph shows how the amount of water in Mars’ atmosphere varies from season to season. Number of water poles during global and regional dust storms in southern spring and summer. Credit: University of Arizona / Stone / Nasa Godard / Dan Gallagher

Scientists using the device on the ship NASAA.D. Mars Atmospheric and volcanic Evoltioen or MAVEN spacecraft have found that water vapor near the surface of the Red Planet is higher than expected. There, it is easily destroyed by electric gaseous particles – or ions, into space.

According to researchers, this phenomenon caused Mars to lose hundreds of feet (or hundreds of meters) of ocean water in billions of years. Reporting the findings in the journal on November 13, 2020 Science, Researchers say that after the cold polar ice cap, evaporation is moving to higher elevations, and Mars continues to lose water today.

“We are all amazed that we have found so much water in the atmosphere,” said W. Stone, a doctoral student in Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona Moon and Tucson Laboratory. The measurements we used could only come from MAVEN when it was floating in the atmosphere above Mars. ”

To find out, Stone and his colleagues relied on data from MAVEN Independent Gas and Ion Mast Spectrometer (NGIMS) at the NASA Godpar Space Flight Center in Merring Greenbell, Maryland. The mass spectrometer breathes through the air and separates the ions that make up them, which scientists have identified.

Stone and his team began tracking large amounts of water ions on Mars for more than two years. In doing so, they determined that the water vapor near the top of the atmosphere would be 93 miles (150 km) above the west, or about 150 km, in the summer of the southern hemisphere. At this time, the planet is very close to the sun, so it is more likely to be warmer and more dusty.

Water lost Mars

This picture shows how water is usually lost on Mars during regional or international hurricanes. Credit: NASA / Godard / CI Laboratory / Adriana Manrike Gutierrez / Christopher Kim

The hot summer temperatures and strong winds associated with dust storms help water vapor to reach the upper parts of the atmosphere, breaking down easily available oxygen and hydrogen. Hydrogen and oxygen then escape into space. In the past, scientists have thought that water vapor is as close to the surface of the earth as it is to evaporate.

“Everything that reaches the upper part of the atmosphere is destroyed on Mars or Earth,” says Stone, “because this is the part of the atmosphere that is exposed to the full force of the sun.

The researchers found that In June 2018, it measured more than 20 times more water than usual, during a severe dust storm surrounding Mars (which ousted NASA from the commission). Stone and his team estimate that this hurricane will take over the entire Mars year in 45 days.

“Dust storms disrupt the water cycle on Mars and increase water molecules in the atmosphere,” said Paul Mahafi, director of the Solar System Exploration. Chemical reactions can release hydrogen atoms. By NASA Goddard and NGIMS Chief Investigator.

Other scientists have also discovered that the dust storms of Martha can lift water vapor above the surface of the earth. But so far no one was able to send in the perfect solution. In this atmosphere, there are many ions that can decompose 10 times faster than water molecules at lower levels.

“What is unique about this discovery is that we have given us a new way of escape from the Martian area,” said Mehdi Bena, co-investigator of MAVEN NGIMS. It basically changes the assumption of how fast water is flowing today and how fast it has escaped in the past. ”

REFERENCES: “Hydrogen escapes on Mars are seasonal and dust storms.” By Neon Stone, Roger Vie, Mehdi Bena, Daniel Yo Lo, Mercedes K. Elrod and Paul R. Mahafi. November 13, 2020, Science.
Doy: 10.1126 / science.aba5229

This study was funded by the MAVEN mission. MAVEN is the lead researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder Laboratory in Atmospheric and Space Physics, and NASA Godard manages the MAVEN project.

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