BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Curiosity has found proof that Mars once had an oxygen atmosphere. Quite a few samples from rocks on Mars have a compound called manganese, which is present in Earth’s structure as well. It can only form if oxygen is present in the atmosphere.
Curiosiy keeps finding manganese ever since 2013. Early studies indicate that the element shouldn’t be there. This discovery proves that the Red Planet once had an Earth-like atmosphere. The rocks were found on the “Caribou” formation.
Nina Lanza, expert from Los Alamos National Laboratory believes that millions of years back, Mars was a welcoming, wet world. At first, researchers thought the high concentration of manganese found on Caribou was an error.
However, upon further research, a chemical analysis determined that the existence of the compound was in fact justified.
The chemical analysis was conducted by Curiosity itself, using a laser to vaporize the rock. Now, experts believe that under the radiating action of the sun, water molecules were split, but hydrogen and oxygen remained in the atmosphere. Mars has a weak electromagnetic field and a weak gravity, so the hydrogen atoms must have floated away. The oxygen, however, was probably absorbed by the rocks.
Life can exist where oxygen is found. But only oxygen, without water, is not enough to support life. This shows that Mars evolved differently than previously thought.
Further research is needed to look other minerals and determine Mars’ past.
In time, NASA has sent many probes to our nearest neighbor, Mars. This has led some to say the Red Planet is now a giant “robot cemetery.” And these endeavors were not cheap either. More and more scientists question these decisions. How moral is sending robots to space, when a lot of people on Earth are struggling to get by?
Before Curiosity there was Opportunity. And before Opportunity there was Spirit. And before those there was Viking. Other probes, like the MAVEN, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey and more… Out of over 40 missions to explore Mars, 28 failed, and only 19 succeeded.
Russia is, in fact, the leader of flops, with its share of failed unmanned missions to Mars. China, India, and Japan had their share of flops, too.
Image Source – Pixabay