Home > Agencies & Organisations, Astronomy, ESA (European Space Agency), Mars, Mars Express, Solar System, Spaceflight, Unmanned Spaceflight > ESA Orbiter Discovers Water Supersaturation in the Martian Atmosphere

ESA Orbiter Discovers Water Supersaturation in the Martian Atmosphere


Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

New analysis of data sent back by the SPICAM spectrometer on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft has revealed for the first time that the planet’s atmosphere is supersaturated with water vapour. This surprising discovery has major implications for understanding the Martian water cycle and the historical evolution of the atmosphere.

Although numerous spacecraft have visited Mars over the past half a century, very few direct measurements of the vertical structure of the planet’s atmosphere have been made. Since most of the spacecraft instruments have looked down at the surface, it has only been possible to infer the horizontal distribution of gases in the atmosphere, leaving the question of how water vapour is being mixed into the atmosphere almost unexplored.

This lack of direct measurements has meant that descriptions of the vertical distribution of water vapour — a key factor in the study of Mars’ hydrological cycle — has generally been based upon global climate models.

Full Story: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=49342

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