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Astronomers detect water vapour emanating from Martian atmosphere

Artist’s impression of ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) analysing the Martian atmosphere.
(Image credit: European Space Agency (ESA))

A new study reports the detection of water vapours escaping high up in the thin Martian atmosphere. This further adds new evidence as to whether Mars could have once hosted life.

The traces of ancient dried out valleys and river channels indicate the possibility that liquid water once flowed through red planet’s surface, in its ancient past. But, today, most of red planet’s water remains frozen in its ice caps or buried underground.

Now, according to a new study conducted by two scientists at Britain’s Open University: some of this Martian water is vaporising, in the form of hydrogen escaping from the atmosphere.

Scientists spotted the vapour by examining the light passing through the Mars’ atmosphere by using an instrument called the Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery (NOMAD).

The instrument is installed on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter- a joint venture between Russia’s ROSCOSMOS and European Space Agency (ESA), and it is currently orbiting Mars.

It is providing never-before-seen view of water isotopes in the Martian atmosphere as function of both time and location.

Measuring water isotopes is a vital element for perceiving how red planet has lost its water over time, and therefore how its habitability has altered throughout the history.

It has already been a busy month for Mars exploration. Recently two spacecraft (UAE’s Hope orbiter and China’s Tianwen-1) successfully entered the orbit around Mars.

While Hope is only designed to orbit Mars, Tianwen-1 is expected to attempt landing sometime in May this year.

And on 18 February NASA’s Perseverance rover is scheduled to touch down on the Martian surface at Jezero crater.

for more details: Water heavily fractionated as it ascends on Mars as revealed by ExoMars/NOMAD

Originally published at https://theabsolutecosmos.blogspot.com.

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Absolute Cosmos

Absolute Cosmos

The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be…