ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, has confirmed detection of unprecedented levels of Martian supersaturated atmospheric water vapour, at 10X the levels
present on our own planet Earth!
The levels of water high in the Martian atmosphere are startling, claims ESA scientists.
Instruments aboard Mars Express, measured the levels of upper atmospheric H20 and estimate them to be up to 100 times higher than previously
The instrument that detected the amazing quantities of high altitude water is SPICAM (Spectroscopy for the Investigation of the Characteristics of the
Atmosphere of Mars), it has found levels in excess of saturation, and in much higher quantities than measured here on Earth.
Here, we report observations made using the SPICAM (Spectroscopy for the Investigation of the Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Mars)
instrument onboard Mars Express that provide evidence of the frequent presence of water vapor in excess of saturation, by an amount far surpassing
that encountered in Earth’s atmosphere.
This result contradicts the widespread assumption that atmospheric water on Mars cannot exist in a supersaturated state, directly affecting our
long-term representation of water transport, accumulation, escape, and chemistry on a global scale.
The new results, based on SPICAM data obtained during the northern spring and summer, indicate that the vertical distribution of water vapor in
the Martian atmosphere is very different from previous assumptions.
An international team led by Luca Maltagliati of the Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS) in Guyancourt, France,
describe SPICAM observations at infrared wavelengths that for the first time provide evidence for the existence of supersaturated water vapor on
Extremely high levels of supersaturation were found on Mars, up to 10 times greater than those found on Earth.
Clearly, there is much more water vapor in the upper Martian atmosphere than anyone ever imagined. It seems that previous models have greatly
underestimated the quantities of water vapour at heights of 20–50 km, with as much as 10 to 100 times more water than expected at this
The reason thought to promote this supersaturation of H2O on Mars, is a lack of precipitating or condensing aerosol particles in the Martian upper
atmosphere, during the planets aphelion or the point where Mars is furthest away from the sun.
Basically a lack of dust in the atmosphere, leads to a supersaturated H2O upper Martian atmosphere.
Here on Earth, the dust or particles in the air, cause vapour to form droplets around these tiny particles of dust and salts, and then condense into
rain or ice, so while we have much more H2O in our atmosphere as a whole, we don't have anywhere near the saturation levels Mars has.
The saturation levels on Mars during it's Perihelion or closest approach to the Sun are expected to plummet in Southern Summer, as dust storms will be
expected to throw up large amounts of dust and aerosols into the high Atmosphere, increasing the supply of condensation nuclei..now, i don't know
about you dear readers, but this is implying something very odd to me.
The implication is that aerosols and 'condensation nuclei' will cause the Martian water vapour to condense, and precipitate just as it does here on
Earth...does this suggest that it RAINS H2O on Mars?!
This finding has vast implications, and has to be regarded as a prime reason to rethink almost everything we thought we knew about the Martian
It also has other implications regarding life, past or present of course.
What strikes me as particularly puzzling, is considering almost every probe sent to Mars, has had in it's remit the search for evidence of both H2O
and life, past or present, over the last 35 years or so, and we are only discovering this supersaturated state...now?!
The Official reason for 'missing' the levels of atmospheric supersaturation before now, is essentially one of 'The instruments on previous probes were
looking down at the surface, not at the correct angle to detect this phenomena...anyone else feel that is total rubbish?
We send expensive, fairly rare probes to Mars to look for water and signs of life ancient or otherwise, yet we don't sample the upper atmosphere on
the way down?
We don't use orbiter instrumentation to look obliquely at the Martian atmosphere for signs of water or bacteria and so on?
I for one, don't buy it. Two rovers over five years, and if the condensing nuclei theory is correct, they have not observed precipitation or snow?
And if they have and assumed it was CO2 snow, would they not have at least sampled it to test?
Something doesn't add up to me.
edit on 3/10/2011 by spikey because: (no reason given)
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edit on 3/10/2011 by
ArMaP because: (no reason given)