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posted by cmn32480 on Saturday October 01 2016, @07:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the mars-farts dept.

NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence that chemistry in the surface material on Mars contributed dynamically to the makeup of its atmosphere over time. It's another clue that the history of the Red Planet's atmosphere is more complex and interesting than a simple legacy of loss.

The findings come from the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument suite, which studied the gases xenon and krypton in Mars' atmosphere. The two gases can be used as tracers to help scientists investigate the evolution and erosion of the Martian atmosphere. A lot of information about xenon and krypton in Mars' atmosphere came from analyses of Martian meteorites and measurements made by the Viking mission.

"What we found is that earlier studies of xenon and krypton only told part of the story," said Pamela Conrad, lead author of the report and SAM's deputy principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "SAM is now giving us the first complete in situ benchmark against which to compare meteorite measurements."

Of particular interest to scientists are the ratios of certain isotopes - or chemical variants - of xenon and krypton. The SAM team ran a series of first-of-a-kind experiments to measure all the isotopes of xenon and krypton in the Martian atmosphere. The experiments are described in a paper published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

The data is expected to add to our understanding of how a planet's atmosphere evolves.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01 2016, @08:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01 2016, @08:00PM (#408863)

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Or in this case probably some simple error.

  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Saturday October 01 2016, @08:56PM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Saturday October 01 2016, @08:56PM (#408871) Journal

    more complex and interesting than a simple legacy of loss.

    Could have been worse, could've lost an entire atmosphere, instead of having it regenerated from your crust.

    --
    "Believe it or not, your opinion on this topic is really not necessary,"