Caltech study may explain the mystery of Mars’ atmosphere

In the mid-1960s, scientists Robert B. Leighton and Bruce C. Murray of the California Institute of Technology theoretically deduced carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere, which was discovered during a flight by the Mariner IV probe. Scientists believe Mars may have long-term stable polar deposits of carbon dioxide ice that can control global atmospheric pressure. A new study from the California Institute of Technology suggests that their theory may be correct.

Carbon dioxide accounts for 95% of the Martian atmosphere. The surface pressure on the Red Planet is only 0.6% of Earth’s. The theory of Leighton and Murray is that the value of atmospheric pressure may change as planets swing around the axis of the sun.

Caltech study may explain the mystery of Mars' atmosphere

This will expose the poles to more or less exposure to sunlight, and direct sunlight on carbon dioxide ice in the poles will cause sublimation. Sublimation is a direct transition of material from solid to gaseous. Scientists predict that in tens of thousands of years, atmospheric pressure will oscillate from a quarter of today’s Martian atmospheric pressure to double today’s.

The new model by caltechtechns provides key evidence. The team explored a mysterious feature of the martian south pole, the massive accumulation of carbon dioxide ice and water ice in the alternating layers, which extend to a depth of 1 km. Scientists say the sediments have as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as they do today.

Scientists have long believed that burying carbon dioxide ice under water ice is impossible to survive. However, the new model suggests that the ice may have evolved as a result of changes in the tilt of the planet’s rotation, different ways in which water and carbon dioxide ice reflect sunlight, and an increase in air pressure caused by sublimation of carbon dioxide ice. They believe that warmer periods sublimate carbon dioxide ice, leaving more stable water ice.