Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UT Dallas researcher helps reveal more complete picture of Martian atmosphere

Instruments designed by a UT Dallas professor to measure atmospheric components on the surface of Mars have uncovered important clues about the planet’s atmosphere and climate history.

The findings, published in a recent issue of the journal Science, reveal how carbon dioxide isotopes have reacted to volcanic activity, water and weathering – thus forming a more complete picture of the current Martian atmosphere.

The NASA mission in which this work was accomplished was the Phoenix Lander, an unmanned spacecraft deployed to Mars in 2008.

UT Dallas Physics Professor John Hoffman, a member of the William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences, designed the mass spectrometer through which soil samples collected at the surface of Mars were analyzed.

Samples of atmospheric gasses were drawn into the instrument during several Martian days, called “sols,” and analyzed to determine the type of gases that comprise the atmosphere.

“The dominant gas is carbon dioxide,” Hoffman said. “We examined these carbon dioxide molecules and measured the ratio of the light to heavy atoms of carbon and oxygen.”

Different mass atoms of an element are called isotopes. By contrasting these isotopes, Hoffman and other researchers could see how the gases were affected by geologic processes on Mars. Previous samples from the Martian atmosphere were analyzed three decades ago during NASA’s Viking program. The precision of those measurements was limited by the technology available at the time.

“The accuracy of the current measurements far surpasses the previous information we had,” Hoffman said. “Obviously, these geologic and atmospheric changes are slow processes, but we now have a better idea of the earlier planetary atmosphere.”

Scientists have also studied material from Martian meteorites that have landed on Earth. These data have helped fill in the time scale for the evolution of the atmosphere on Mars.

“These findings are exciting because they show how the atmosphere of Mars evolved and we can contrast that to our own history here on Earth,” Hoffman added. “We have a more complete understanding of our neighboring planet.”

The research was funded by NASA as part of the Mars Scout Program. The work was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Arizona.

Media Contact: Katherine Morales, 972-883-4321,
or the Office of Media Relations, 972-883-2155,

Katherine Morales | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>