Can anyone think of a chemical process?
Something that consumes oxygen or at least slows its release from minerals during lower light levels and temperatures associated with Martian fall and winter?
A new Martian mystery has left scientists baffled. The oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere seems to rise every spring and summer and fall during autumn and winter, and scientists have no idea why. The startling discovery was made after the team analysed data from the Gale Crater taken by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) …
I've just been reading about the interstellar #2 and that has a huge amount of Oxygen around it. This. it seems comes from water sublimation being ionised by solar radiation (UV presumably) and I can see exactly the same thing happening on Mars as the sun warms subsurface ice during the 'summer'.
There was no mention of how the concentration of CO changes during the seasons. That's unstable in the presence of oxygen, which suggests a chemical source for that too, and possibly a related one. I also note that the concentration of CO is lower than that of O2.
Haemoglobin comes to mind. There are a lot of iron compounds in Martial soil. Could there be some naturally-occuring compounds that loosely bind both CO2 and CO, and which are being heated and irradiated with UV to release some oxygen while continuing to bind some CO?
Haemoglobin is a very complex molecule that will be easily destroyed by the perchlorates present in the Martian soil, as well as the high concentrations of UV during the Martian day. On this basis I would suggest that there is limited scope for any haemoglobin (or in anything functionally similar) to be present in any measurable quantities in the Martian soil.
Richard was not positing the presence of haemoglobin but some sort of iron based process equivalent to it. If the iron were chemically chelated in a similar way to haem molecules* caging iron that might explain it.
*Haemoglobin is not the only one. Muscles are red because they are packed with myoglobin, which actually has a higher affinity for O2 than haemoglobin. Has to be to rip the O2 from it.
I'll take my Physiologist/muscle biologist hat off now.
Chemical processes? Several, all part of metabolic pathways employed by current-day micro-organisms here on Earth that happily live in conditions that would be comparable to current-day subsurface Mars if sufficient liquid water ( for a given value of "water". What they like isn't potable, quite often lethal, to use frail oxygen-hardened multicellulars..) is available.
As any biologist who paid attention to his microbiology and cell biology courses could tell you. Or quite a few chemistry majors.. After all, the anaerobic squad does stuff they would love to learn how to do efficiently. Like splitting H2O ( with O2 being actually a poisonous waste product ) , or turning CO2 into CH4 ( with, oh dear, H2O as a by-product).
From a scientific point of view, with what we currently know of the evolution of our planet, and the life on it, life on Old Mars was certainly possible. Some of it may well have evolved to cope over the millennia and still exist, so a biotic origin of the fluctuations described cannot be ruled out. In fact, it's a tantalising match. Now we just simply need to find the critters...
Hopefully using robots first.. Although finding out the hard way that we humans are a very tasty snack for martian microbes would very much clinch the matter. And isn't all that far-fetched.. Things like tetanus and botulism are reminders that anaerobics tend to do very nasty things to our system.
"Carbon dioxide freezes over the Martian North and South pole in winter, lowering the air pressure across the planet’s atmosphere."
Is it just me, or does this statement make no sense? Like Earth, Mars has seasons because is tilted on its axis. "Winter" is not a season that exists across the entire planet, and so any lowering of air pressure could only apply to one hemisphere at a time. (If that's even possible.)
Would the freezing of CO2 on one pole not be offset by the melting at the other?
Mars is further away from the Sun during the south pole "winter", so more CO2 freezes out there than on the North Pole. So the amount of CO2 liberated at the north pole is more than compensated for by the amount of CO2 freezing at the south pole - hence the net drop in pressure.
You can easily see this effect - the south polar ice cap on Mars is *much* bigger than the north polar ice cap.
If you were an observer on the Northern hemisphere of Mars, you would surely experience Summer and Winter seasons opposite to that in the South? Or is the change in solar distance so great that the seasons are mainly driven by that mechanism rather han the planet's tilt, thus making the seasons the same over the entire planet as this article implies?
No, you would experience Summer & Winter seasons the same as the Earth (the axil tilt of Mars is very similar to that of the Earth). However the length of the seasons will be much longer. Also summer in the northern hemisphere will be warmer (Mars is closer to the Sun then, also the mean altitude of the northern hemisphere is much lower so the air pressure, such as it is, is higher).
Of course, warm on Mars still means sub-zero!
It seems that since the Viking 'discovery' and the fossilized bacteria 'discovery' during Clinton's tenure, no one seems to want to stick their head above the parapet for fear of the shelling they are likely to receive. Possibly, as given the last announcement involved the incumbent POTUS, they think their credibility would be ruined for life if Agent Orange jumped on the bandwagon.
Alternately, they are playing the long game to build the value of manned exploration of our companion planet. Whatever the reason, the mounting evidence is getting more and more compelling, even if no one will actually say it.
"Trump nor Brexit."
You mean like Brexit being a factor in Tesla building its european plant in Germany rather than the UK?
After all those "electric vehicle renaissance" platitudes from the Brexit lot. Inconvenient truth in more ways than one.
Serious point though - As we get closer to the election, things will get worse (more political) before they get better.
No one will say it because they is no proof. Extraordinary claims - ie life on mars - require extraordinary proof and given standard chemical reactions can mimic many of lifes abilities when it comes to reactions and gasses here is little yet to get excited about.
Also bear in mind that oxygen was a poison to early life on earth and probably would be to any mars life too unless it had also miraculously evolved photosynthesis.
'No one will say it because they is no proof.'
My observation is presicly about that. Prior work has been shot down in flames to the extent that the possibility is now dismissed to the point that appeals are going out to explain the phenomenon with hypothetical chemistry. No one is prepared to risk their reputation.
It's telling that you jumped on photosynthesis, and then dismiss it out of hand as if it is impossible panspermia could be a possibility.
Mars was potentially habitable far earlier than Earth if current knowledge is to be believed.
All the Martian tribes live on the surface during the nice months, then go back underground for the rest of the year.
As their respiratory cycle is clearly the opposite of ours, oxygen levels rise when they're at the surface.
The methane comes from their livestock, which everyone knows are regularly cownapped from Earth.
No mystery at all.
We're talking seasonal variations of 0.16% and 0.21% atmospheric concentration right? Not 1% to 20%?
So not gigantic differences, plus the instrument accuracy is not listed?
OK the astro guy says it's a real effect... But gravitational layering at different masses and temperatures, plus minor rock gas deviance, chemistry, = plausible explanation?
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