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Volume mixing and isotope ratios secured with repeated atmospheric measurements taken with the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite on the Curiosity rover are: carbon dioxide (CO2), 0.960(±0.007); argon-40 (40Ar), 0.0193(±0.0001); nitrogen (N2), 0.0189(±0.0003); oxygen, 1.45(±0.09) × 10−3; carbon monoxide, < 1.0 × 10−3; and 40Ar/36Ar, 1.9(±0.3) × 103. [...] The 40Ar/36Ar ratio is consistent with martian meteoritic values, which provides additional strong support for a martian origin of these rocks. [...] This heavy isotope enrichment in carbon supports the hypothesis of substantial atmospheric loss.
Stable isotope ratios of H, C, and O are powerful indicators of a wide variety of planetary geophysical processes, and for Mars they reveal the record of loss of its atmosphere and subsequent interactions with its surface such as carbonate formation. [...] Comparison between our measurements in the modern atmosphere and those of martian meteorites such as ALH 84001 implies that the martian reservoirs of CO2 and H2O were largely established ~4 billion years ago, but that atmospheric loss or surface interaction may be still ongoing.
The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, containing the Curiosity rover, was launched to Mars on 26 November 2011, and for most of the 253-day, 560-million-kilometer cruise to Mars, the Radiation Assessment Detector made detailed measurements of the energetic particle radiation environment inside the spacecraft. These data provide insights into the radiation hazards that would be associated with a human mission to Mars. We report measurements of the radiation dose, dose equivalent, and linear energy transfer spectra. The dose equivalent for even the shortest round-trip with current propulsion systems and comparable shielding is found to be 0.66 ± 0.12 sievert.
Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of laboratory instruments inside the rover has measured the abundances of different gases and different isotopes in several samples of Martian atmosphere.
Meteorite measurements indicate much of the atmospheric loss may have occurred during the first billion years of the planet's 4.6-billion-year history. The Curiosity measurements reported this week provide more precise measurements to compare with meteorite studies and with models of atmospheric loss.