NASA

A Giant Hole in the Martian Atmosphere Is Venting All Its Water into Space


[Mars-like Places on Earth]"The Martian middle atmosphere is too cold to sustain water vapor," the researchers wrote in the study, which was published April 16 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.So how is water crossing that middle-layer barrier?The answer, according to computer simulations in the current study, has to do with two atmospheric processes unique to the Red Planet.On Earth, summer in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemispheres are pretty similar.


At other times, the lack of sunlight shuts down Martian water cycles almost entirely.Mars is also different from Earth in that the Red Planet gets frequently overtaken by giant dust storms.


But the light that doesn't reach Mars' surface instead gets stuck in the atmosphere, warming it and creating conditions better suited to moving water around, the scientists' simulations showed.


But ultraviolet light in the upper atmosphere can also sever the bonds between the oxygen and hydrogen in the molecules, causing the hydrogen to escape into space, leaving the oxygen behind.This process could be part of the story of how a once-drenched Mars has ended up so dry in its current epoch, the researchers wrote.


That's the explanation advanced by a team of Russian and German scientists who studied the odd behavior of water on the Red Planet.


But the light that doesn't reach Mars' surface instead gets stuck in the atmosphere, warming it and creating conditions better suited to moving water around, the scientists' simulations showed.






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