Vapor Lofted Higher Than Expected On Mars

NASA Study Finds Water Vapor Lofted Higher Than Expected On Mars

Science

NASA scientists have decoded an interesting natural phenomenon that unveils how Mars lost water. Scientists said that the planet lost the water equivalent to an ocean of water. The said phenomenon occurred billions of years ago, causing the Red Planet losing water hundreds of feet deep. The planet even today loses water in the form of vapor. They said that vapor is transmitted to high altitudes. According to them, water evaporates after sublimating from the frozen polar caps. This occurs mostly during the summer. Scientists made the revelations after conducting a study using a scientific tool aboard MAVEN. NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft is orbiting the planet for the last six years.

The NASA spacecraft discovered water vapor near the planet’s surface. The vapor is lofted higher than expected into the Martian atmosphere. The spacecraft was launched in November 2013 and entered Mars’ orbit in September 2014. The spacecraft is designed to study Mars’ climate and how it changed over time. It studies the upper atmosphere and ionosphere. Besides, it also measures how the solar winds volatile particles from the Martian atmosphere. Scientists said that they are surprised to find water at higher altitudes in the planet’s atmosphere. The study underlined that water is lost to space easily when it interacts with electrically charged gas particles.

The NASA team tracked the abundance of water ions for over two years. They said that amount of water vapor was highest at the top of Mars’ atmosphere. This was seen in the southern hemisphere of the planet when it makes proximity to the Sun. Also, dust storms happen when the temperature is high during the summer. The strong winds accompanied by dust storms push water vapor to reach the high altitudes. At the uppermost parts, vapor easily broke into hydrogen and oxygen before escaping to space. Notably, scientists said that everything that makes it up to the higher part vanished because it is exposed to Sun. Scientists previously predicted that water vapor was trapped close to the Red Planet’s surface just like it happens on Earth.

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