Related topics: nasa · mars · red planet

Helicopters flying at Mars may glow at dusk

The whirling blades on drones flying above Mars may cause tiny electric currents to flow in the Martian atmosphere, according to a NASA study. These currents, if large enough, might cause the air surrounding the craft to ...

Widespread megaripple activity found on Martian north pole area

Megaripples, intermediate-scale bedforms caused by the action of the wind, have been studied extensively and thought to be largely inactive relics of past climates, save for a few exceptions. A new paper by Planetary Science ...

Making Martian rocket biofuel on Mars

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a concept that would make Martian rocket fuel, on Mars, that could be used to launch future astronauts back to Earth.

Martian global dust storm ended winter early in the south

A dust storm that engulfed Mars in 2018 destroyed a vortex of cold air around the planet's south pole and brought an early spring to the hemisphere. By contrast, the storm caused only minor distortions to the polar vortex ...

ExoMars orbiter continues hunt for key signs of life on Mars

The ESA-Roscosmos Trace Gas Orbiter has set new upper limits on how much methane, ethane, ethylene and phosphine is in the martian atmosphere—four so-called 'biomarker' gases that are potential signs of life.

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Atmosphere of Mars

Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, has a very different atmosphere than that of the Earth. There has been much interest in studying its composition since the recent detection of a small amount of methane, which may signal life on Mars; it could also be a geochemical process or the result of volcanic or hydrothermal activity.

The atmosphere of Mars is relatively thin, and the atmospheric pressure on the surface varies from around 30 Pa (0.03 kPa) on Olympus Mons's peak to over 1155 Pa (1.155 kPa) in the depths of Hellas Planitia, with a mean surface level pressure of 600 Pa (0.6 kPa, or 6 millibars, or 0.087 psi), compared to Earth's 101.3 kPa, and a total mass of 25 teratonnes, compared to Earth's 5148 teratonnes. However, the scale height of the atmosphere is about 11 km, somewhat higher than Earth's 7 km. The atmosphere on Mars consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, and 1.6% argon, and contains traces of oxygen, water, and methane, for a mean molecular weight of 43.34 g/mole. The atmosphere is quite dusty, giving the Martian sky a tawny color when seen from the surface; data from the Mars Exploration Rovers indicate that the suspended dust particles are roughly 1.5 micrometres across.

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