Mars’ atmosphere largely composed of carbon dioxide: NASA

Mars’ atmosphere largely composed of carbon dioxide: NASA

The atmosphere on Mars - the Red Planet - is largely composed of carbon dioxide, an analysis of samples collected by the Curiosity Rover revealed.

The Sample Analysis at Mars suite of the Curiosity Rover measured the ratios of carbon dioxide and oxygen's heavier to lighter isotopes in the atmosphere of Mars. An analysis of the data revealed that the loss of heavier isotopes of the two gases contributed to a deprivation of atmospheric thickness on the Red Planet.

The findings provided scientists with a glimpse of how the loss of Martian atmosphere occurred.

Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Maryland-based Goddard Space Flight Center, said, "As atmosphere was lost, the signature of the process was embedded in the isotopic ratio."

Mr. Mahaffy, the principal examiner for the Curiosity Rover's analysis suite, is the lead author of one of the two Curiosity studies that appeared in the July 19th issue of journal Science.

Now, the American space agency is planning to use the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars suite to measure methane gas in the Martian atmosphere.

The Curiosity Rover, which arrived inside the Red planet's Gale Crater in early August 2012, earlier this month started a journey toward Mount Sharp.


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