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Curiosity “Tastes” Martian Air

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English: Visualization of a methane plume foun...

English: Visualization of a methane plume found in Mars’ atmosphere during the northern summer season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alicia Chang, science writer for the AP, relays some interesting information discovered by Curiosity about the Martian atmosphere:

The Curiosity rover has tasted Mars’ air: It’s made mostly of carbon dioxide with hints of other gases.
There was a small surprise: Viking found nitrogen to be the second most abundant gas in the Martian air, but Curiosity’s measurements revealed a nearly equal abundance of nitrogen and argon, a stable noble gas.
Several years ago, telescopes on Earth detected a surprising and mysterious belch of methane in three regions in the Martian western hemisphere. On Earth, methane is mainly a byproduct of life — from animal digestion and decaying plants. The gas can also be produced by non-biological processes.
Last year, the Curiosity team reported no definitive whiff of methane near the landing site. Since then, the rover has taken several more air samples. There are also plans to sniff the atmosphere for methane during the monthslong drive to Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-high mountain looming from the crater center.
NASA in the fall is set to launch a Mars-orbiting spacecraft aimed at solving the methane mystery.
Called Maven, the craft will target the Martian atmosphere. Scientists want to know if it actually exists, determine the abundance and whether that varies by year or location, said mission chief scientist Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado.
 
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Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

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