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A new Mars research review tells the story of the evolution of the Red Planet’s atmosphere


Pictures of Mars during a global dust storm. credit: Natural Earth Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41561-022-01118-7

Mars is one of the most studied planets in our solar system, second only to Earth. Signs point to the Red Planet once existing as a habitable world like ours, galvanizing scientists’ keen interest in understanding the history of Mars’ environment and how it reached its present state. For the first time, Dr. Erdal Yigit, assistant professor in Mason’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, has brought these studies together into a single review to reveal the conjunctions and interactions of the entire Martian atmosphere.

“If we understand the physics, chemistry, and weather dynamics on Mars, that can help us understand the atmospheric history of Earth and the planets of the solar system,” Egget said.

His recently published article in Natural Earth Sciences It reviews studies of discrete layers of the atmosphere and analyzes how these layers interact with each other and the phenomena that result from those interactions. Although there is plenty of data about Mars, atmospheric coupling (which brings regions together to display interactions) is less explored and one of them, Egget, says it’s the key to understanding the planet’s history.

His review revealed that meteorological processes (such as waves and dust storms) play an important role in water loss from Mars’ upper atmosphere, especially during dust storms on a global scale. This loss may have played an important role in what led to Mars’ current, cold, arid climate.

“Understanding what happened to Mars can indicate whether the same thing could happen on Earth,” he said.

Yiget is one of the few scientists around the world who studies entire planetary atmospheres. In 2016, he was awarded the Zeldovich Medal by the Committee for Space Research (COSPAR) and the Russian Academy of Sciences for his significant contributions to the study of coupling between the lower and upper atmospheres by gravitational waves on Earth and Mars. Over the past several years, he and a group of collaborators have branched out into this new area of ​​research.

By applying their work to the ground, the researchers can now understand why orbiting satellites detect disturbances in the outermost layer of the atmosphere by looking closely at weather patterns and the waves that then propagate from the Earth’s surface. Yiğit uses global models, gravitational wave models, and satellite observations to study various long-range pairings. Researchers use well-established computation and modeling tools to combine measurements with low-level wave generation in order to fully understand Earth’s systems.

Egget explained that scientists study Earth using specific computational and modeling tools to develop and improve theories. He added that scientists now see the same basic physics on Mars and can use those techniques developed to study the planet in similar ways. Thus, the next step is to apply the same models to Mars. “Mars has satellites that measure all levels of the atmosphere, but what they need is to connect the dots,” Egget said.

By comparing different planets and their atmospheres, known as comparative planetology, scientists can solve key problems of atmospheric or ionospheric physics. “The technologies, methods and models developed for Earth can be used on Mars by modifying certain parameters,” he said.

By doing so, Yigit said, this will open up a new wave of exciting scientific discoveries in the field of atmospheric and ionospheric sciences and space weather on Mars. He hopes that this new wave will motivate young scientists to think about studying planets with a general view of the atmosphere and push this field of study forward.

more information:
Erdal Yigit, Conjunctions and Interactions Across the Entire Mars Atmospheric System, Natural Earth Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41561-022-01118-7

Provided by George Mason University

the quote: Review of New Mars Research Tells the Story of the Red Planet’s Atmosphere Evolution (2023, March 30) Retrieved March 30, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-mars-story-red-planet-atmosphere.html

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