Mars losing atmosphere faster than Earth, probes show

Probes show Mars is losing its atmosphere faster than Earth

Martian dust storms have made its upper atmosphere warmer and caused significant expansion

Representative Image. Credit: Getty Images

Though it is common for planets to lose their atmosphere constantly, Mars has been losing its atmosphere faster than Earth, a recent discovery on the basis of data analysis showed.

ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN), have used corresponding data and come to the conclusion that Martian dust storms that take place regularly across the planet raise the atmospheric temperature by several degrees.

The two Martian probes have alternatively dived down to an altitude of 155 km on the evening and morning side respectively and found that the dust storms have made the upper atmosphere warmer and caused significant expansion.

This heating of the atmosphere is caused due to the radioactive heating of aerosol particles in the lower atmosphere.

This column of warm air rises to the highest atmospheric layer of air. Any further hot air or heated gases is likely to move beyond the exobase altitude and escape into space eventually. 

The two spacecraft noted this phenomenon during a Martian storm that took place in June 2018 and lasted for a month.

Published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, the scientists also noted that there is a significant increase in neutral densities in the upper portion of Mars’s atmosphere which is related to a dust storm brewing in the lower regions of the same.

The increase, however, is larger during the evening when the dust activity is at its peak.