“MAVEN spacecraft has made the first direct detection of the permanent presence of metal in the ionosphere of a planet other than Earth,” -as scientists from NASA said.
An unprecedented discovery made by NASA’s Maven spacecraft spotted traces of iron, magnesium and sodium ions in Mars’ upper atmosphere. MAVEN– Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission orbits the planet gathering data along the way on how Mars lost most of its air, oceans, and atmosphere transforming from a planet eerily similar to Earth to desolate wasteland we see today.
Based on yet another discovery, astronomers have concluded that Mars is more Earth-like than we ever thought.
As NASA has revealed, the red planet is the only other cosmic body in our solar system to have METAL in its atmosphere.
MAVEN, a spacecraft which is specifically designed for studing the atmosphere of Mars, has revealed that there are traces of metal in Mars’ upper atmosphere. It’s an extremely important discovery that shows just how Mars is a planet that eerily resembles Earth.
Joseph Grebowsky of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said: “MAVEN has made the first direct detection of the permanent presence of metal ions in the ionosphere of a planet other than Earth.”
The question is how did metal end up in Mars’ atmosphere?
According to scientists, the answer is not ALIENS.
The metal found in Mars’ atmosphere comes from a constant shower of tiny meteorites onto the planet, says the experts from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.
Scientists say that as high-speed meteorites crash against Mars’ atmosphere, they evaporate.
Metal atoms in the vapor trail get their electrons torn away by charged atoms and molecules in the ionosphere, the metal atoms transform into electrically charged ions.
“Because metallic ions have long lifetimes and are transported far from their region of origin by neutral winds and electric fields, they can be used to infer motion in the ionosphere, similar to the way we use a lofted leaf to reveal which way the wind is blowing,” – explains Grebowsky.
Understanding Mars’ ionospheric activity is helping experts to understand how the Martian atmosphere is escaping into space.
MAVEN has picked up traces of iron, magnesium, and sodium ions in the upper atmosphere so far. These elements were detected over the last two years with help of its Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer instrument.
“We detected metal ions associated with the close passage of Comet Siding Spring in 2014, but that was a unique event and it didn’t tell us about the long-term presence of the ions.” –says Gebrowsky.
Interplanetary dust, which causes the meteor showers, as scientists have explained, is very common in our solar system so it’s very possible that all planets and moons—with substantial atompsherers—have traces of metal. Of course, that is still a theory.
Gebrowsky said: “Observing metal ions on another planet gives us something to compare and contrast with Earth to understand the ionosphere and atmospheric chemistry better.”