Atmosphere of Mars

The atmosphere of Mars is less than 1% of Earth’s, so it does not protect the planet from the Sun’s radiation nor does it do much to retain heat at the surface. It consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and the remainder is trace amounts of oxygen, water vapor, and other gases. Also, it is constantly filled with small particles of dust(mainly iron oxide), which give Mars its reddish hue.

Scientist believe that the atmosphere of Mars is so negligible because the planet lost its magnetosphere about 4 billion years ago. A magnetosphere would channel the solar wind around the planet. Without one, the solar wind interacts directly with the ionosphere stripping away atoms, lowering the density of the atmosphere. These ionized particles have been detected by multiple spacecraft as they trial off into space behind Mars. This leads the surface atmospheric pressure to be as low as 30 Pa(Pascal) with an average of 600 Pa compared to Earth’s average of 101,300 Pa. The atmosphere extends to about 10.8 km, about 4 km farther than Earth’s. This is possible because the planet’s gravity is slighter and does not hold the atmosphere as tightly.

A relatively large amount of methane has been found in the atmosphere of Mars. This unexpected find occurs at a rate of 30 ppb. The methane occurs in large plumes in different areas of the planet, which suggests that it was released in those general areas. Data seems to suggest that there are two main sources for the methane: one appears to be centered near 30° N, 260° W, with the second near 0°, 310° W. It is estimated that Mars produces 270 ton/year of methane. Under the conditions on Mars, methane breaks down as quickly as 6 months(Earth time). In order for the methane to exist in the detected quantities, there must be a very active source under the surface. Volcanic activity, comet impacts, and serpentinization are the most probable causes. Methanogenic microbial life is a very remote alternative source.

The atmosphere of Mars will cause a great number of obstacles for human exploration of the planet. It prevents liquid water on the surface, allows radiation levels that humans can barely tolerate, and would make it difficult to grow food even in a greenhouse. NASA and other space agencies are confident that they will be able to engineer solutions for the problem within the next 30 years, though. Good luck to them.

it has less gravity. and high school students in aerospace engineering. There are many factors that determine the gravity of a planet. The curvature in space created by an object with greater mass than the objects around it would cause these objects of lesser mass to fall toward the more massive object. so now we have our current understanding of gravity. and program management.Gravity on Mars The gravity on Mars is much lower than it is here on Earth. this only described the phenomenon in part. The affects of long term exposure to different strengths of gravity is an area of study concerning human exploration of other planets. The mission is called the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program. In the proposition 15 mice will orbit Earth for five weeks. Einstein hypothesized that space and time served as the fabric of the universe. Overcoming the reduced gravity on Mars could be a major stepping off point . The mission is currently scheduled to launch in 2014 or 2016. The project could cost over $15 million plus the cost of the launch and is still seeking funding. space life sciences. Newton used the universal law of gravitation to describe how gravity works. Mass. but this only described gravity on the large scale. however. A person weighing 100 kg here would tip the scales at 38 kg there. which would be spun so that the force mimics the gravity on Mars. That means that Martian gravity is 38% of Earth’s. and protons. density. electrons. the project had engaged over 600 undergraduate. earning multiple student awards. therefore. It is known that humans can suffer bone loss and other health problems. Mars is smaller than the Earth in all of these categories. 62% lower to be more precise. yet the phenomenon is still a partial mystery that is an obstacle to a universal theory to describe the functions of every interaction in the universe accurately. MIT researchers have proposed one such study involving a group of mice. By 2009. graduate. Quantum physics proposed a theoretical particle called the graviton that controls gravity. Quantum physics introduced particles smaller than neutrons. He stated that gravity was simply a curvature in spacetime created by a mass object. The mice would be launched aboard a small satellite. which displayed exceptions to classical physics of matter when viewed on the micro scale. but exact studies need to be conducted to test the top-end duration of a human mission. and size are a few of them. Then came quantum physics.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ.04.for long term human exploration of other planets. plus a new type of finding that may be related to both salt and water This map of Mars shows relative locations of three types of findings related to salt or frozen water. "NASA's Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining . of Arizona › Full image and caption This map of Mars shows relative locations of three types of findings related to salt or frozen water. so. -. plus a new type of finding that may be related to both salt and water.11 An image combining orbital imagery with 3-D modeling shows flows that appear in spring and summer on a slope inside Mars' Newton crater An image combining orbital imagery with 3-D modeling shows flows that appear in spring and summer on a slope inside Mars' Newton crater. ASA Spacecraft Data Suggest Water Flowing on Mars 08. the Mars Gravity Biosatellite will launch soon and expand that knowledge. Image credit: NASA/JPLCaltech/Univ. Scientists have very little data to go on. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/UA/LANL/MSSS › Full image and caption PASADENA.Observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars. hopefully. Calif. of Arizona › Full image and caption › Image gallery › Related video This series of images shows warm-season features that might be evidence of salty liquid water active on Mars today This series of images shows warmseason features that might be evidence of salty liquid water active on Mars today.

" said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona. "These dark lineations are different from other types of features on Martian slopes.whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form. even in the shallow subsurface. The images show flows lengthen and darken on rocky equator-facing slopes from late spring to early fall. pole-facing slopes. these dark flows are on warmer. equator-facing slopes." The features imaged are only about 0. The width is much narrower than previously reported gullies on Martian slopes. and return during the next spring. with lengths up to hundreds of yards. to sustain liquid water that is about as salty as Earth's oceans. while gullies are abundant on cold. "The best explanation for these observations so far is the flow of briny water. Tucson. However. some of those locations display more than 1. “and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration. Saltiness lowers the freezing temperature of water." said Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project Scientist Richard Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. The seasonality. McEwen is the principal investigator for the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and lead author of a report about the recurring flows published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science. while pure water would freeze at the observed temperatures. finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer.000 individual flows. Calif. Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere. Also. fade in winter. Sites with active flows get warm enough. latitude distribution and . Some aspects of the observations still puzzle researchers." Dark. "Repeated observations show they extend ever farther downhill with time during the warm season. but flows of liquid brine fit the features' characteristics better than alternate hypotheses.5 to 5 yards or meters wide.

in Boulder. Md." A flow initiated by briny water could rearrange grains or change surface roughness in a way that darkens the appearance. The settings are too warm for carbon-dioxide frost and. If further study of the recurring dark flows supports evidence of brines. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. provided and operates CRISM. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena . however has been detected near the surface in many middle to high-latitude regions. at some sites. but I think it's a solvable mystery with further observations and laboratory experiments. which have lower freezing points." McEwen said.brightness changes suggest a volatile material is involved. Salt deposits over much of Mars indicate brines were abundant in Mars' past. Purported droplets of brine also appeared on struts of the Phoenix Mars Lander. These recent observations suggest brines still may form near the surface today in limited times and places. How the features brighten again when temperatures drop is harder to explain. Frozen water. Colo. too cold for pure water.. These results are the closest scientists have come to finding evidence of liquid water on the planet's surface today." McEwen said. "It's a mystery now. but there is no direct detection of one. these could be the first known Martian locations with liquid water. When researchers checked flow-marked slopes with the orbiter's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM). no sign of water appeared. "The flows are not dark because of being wet. The features may quickly dry on the surface or could be shallow subsurface flows. "They are dark for some other reason. The University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory operates HiRISE. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel. This suggests the action of brines. Fresh-looking gullies suggest slope movements in geologically recent times. perhaps aided by water. The camera was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

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