Something Is Creating and Removing Oxygen on Mars | SciShow News

{♫Intro♫} The Curiosity rover has been hard at work on Mars—both finding mysteries and trying to solve them. This is a detective story! Last year it discovered that levels of methane in the atmosphere were mysteriously changing. And now our trusty rover has thrown us for a loop again: changing levels of oxygen gas. Scientists published their results last week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, and so far, they don’t have a clear explanation for it. Like the changing levels of methane, changing
oxygen levels are likely caused by geologic processes—but they could also potentially
be a sign of life. Either way, they’ll probably tell us something
we didn’t know about the Red Planet. Curiosity has spent the past three Martian
years—that’s five years on Earth—in Gale Crater, sniffing the Martian air. It has a portable chemistry lab, called SAM,
short for Sample Analysis at Mars, which measures the types and amounts of gases in the atmosphere. [Credit: NASA] It also keeps track of how they change over
time. Unlike Earth, where the content of our atmosphere
stays pretty constant, Mars’s atmosphere changes a lot. Roughly 95% of Mars’s super-thin atmosphere
is carbon dioxide, and during the winter months, some of the CO2 in the air deposits into dry
ice at the poles. [Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/J. Cowart] As the air pressure drops in that region,
other atmospheric gases rush into the area, mixing everything up. Come spring, that CO2 starts sublimating back
into a gas. The cycle repeats every half-year, on alternating
poles. But that cycle only affects the amount of
CO2 in the atmosphere. After CO2, nitrogen and argon are the next-most
common elements in Martian air, and according to SAM, the number of those particles stays
even across the seasons. Weirdly enough, that’s not the case for
oxygen. By the end of each spring, the amount of oxygen
SAM measured in the atmosphere increased. By fall, it fell to predicted levels, and
in winter, the amount decreased. This suggests that something on Mars is producing
this oxygen gas, and then several months later, something is removing it. Scientists aren’t yet sure how to explain
this. They’ve ruled out the possibility that CO2
might be splitting apart to create extra oxygen gas—it doesn’t decompose fast enough. And although solar radiation can sometimes
break up molecules, they don’t think that’s what’s happening to the oxygen to explain
its decrease. So it’s still a mystery! And sadly, researchers think it’s probably
not aliens, and more likely the result of some chemical reaction in the Martian soil. For example, one experiment from the Viking
landers in the late 1970s did show that soil could release oxygen gas if it had enough
heat and humidity. [credit: NASA/JPL] But it’s not a perfect answer—that experiment
was done in a completely different environment than the Gale Crater, and it still can’t
explain where the oxygen goes after summertime. The answer could be related to whatever is
causing the rise and fall of methane levels, but the two cycles don’t always line up. So they might be two completely different
puzzles. The good news is Curiosity is on the case! [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS]
It’s still collecting data, and maybe after a few more rounds of seasons, it’ll have
our answer. TOC Switch In the meantime, other researchers have been
hard at work trying to get to the bottom of a mystery a little farther out in the solar
system. Specifically, they’re trying to figure out
how a tiny moon of Saturn got its unusual stripes. The moon, Enceladus, has a set of tiger stripes—yes,
that’s actually what astronomers nicknamed them—around its south pole. [Credit: ] These four stripes are about 130 KM long,
and they run parallel to each other with about 35 KM in between. They’re basically fissures: long cracks
in Enceladus’s surface that connect the moon’s subsurface ocean with the void of
space. And that’s cool for us, because water and
other molecules shoot out of the fissures into space, which means spacecraft can study
them to find out what’s going on down there.[Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech] Alt:
Alt: But as useful as they are, we still don’t
really understand them. We don’t know how they formed, why they’re
so parallel, or why they’re only on one part of the moon. And only on one moon that we know of, for
that matter. [NASA/JPL-Caltech] But earlier this month, researchers presented
one hypothesis. They suggested that the stripes actually formed
because of the moon’s relationship with Saturn. We already knew that as Enceladus orbits Saturn,
the gas giant’s gravitational tug heats up the moon’s insides. That’s how this frigid moon manages to maintain
a liquid ocean under its frozen surface. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute As this new hypothesis goes, the moon slowly
cooled over a very long period of time. As it cooled, the total amount of ice slowly
increased, and pressure built up on the frozen shell. When it couldn’t take it anymore, it cracked. Since the ice is thinnest over the moon’s
south pole, this weak spot was the first to give way under the weight of the shell. That first crack relieved the pressure across
the whole planet, keeping cracks from forming anywhere else. For now. [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech] Once that fissure formed, ocean water would
spew out of it into space. For the most part, it wouldn’t be traveling
fast enough to escape the moon’s gravity, so it’d snow back down on either side of
the stripe. After enough time—anywhere from a hundred
thousand to a million years—-the weight from that new frozen water would cause more
cracks to form, parallel to the original. If it’s right, this hypothesis would also
explain why Enceladus is the only moon we know of that has this stripey feature: it’s
one of the smallest moons with an underground ocean. On a larger moon, any stripes that formed
wouldn’t last; gravity would cause the fractured ice to collapse and crush itself back into
one piece. It’s a promising hypothesis, but it hasn’t
gone through peer review yet, so it’ll be a while before this hypothesis gets put to
the test. It’s still possible that other geologic
processes were involved. But so far, it’s done the best job of explaining
this tiny moon’s tiger stripes. TOC OFF It can take a while to get to the bottom of
puzzles like these, but exploring space is as much about finding the mysteries as it
is about finding the answers. A lot of times these puzzles—the things
that don’t make sense—are the things that give us the most room to learn. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
Space! This episode is brought to you by this week’s
President of Space: Matthew Brant. Matthew is one of our patrons on Patreon,
which is a group of amazing people helping make science education free on the internet. We couldn’t make these videos without our patrons like Matthew Brant, so thanks to all of you. If you’re not a patron yet but you’re interested in learning more about how to support us, you can go to {♫Outro♫}

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  2. If there is no life, I say we introduce Earth life intentionally. Our life must be planted throughout our Solar system

  3. Since O2 % stays “constant” on a planet full of life and even though the atmosphere is thin on Mars, no amount of bacteria would alter its content.


  5. I think there was a movie like this. The gases were changing on Mars, and it turned out there were these BUGS THAT ATE PEOPLE!

  6. @Caitlin Hofmeister ,I really enjoy your presentation and spunky personality. It all goes well with that cute grin. LoL Keep all that stuff together okay?

  7. Much like women, Enceladus has "tiger stripes" because it either was way bigger and got small quickly, or was way smaller and got big quickly.🤣

  8. Probly a open crater that's sucking oxygen towards the core that radiates in and out releasing and taking in. Mars my not be hollow but there are cracks.

  9. Enceladus the strips are formed when the water jets come down from the atmosphere and form a zebra pattern like pattern

  10. Or on Enceladus the water is at sometime heated from the core and could make pattern if it where super cooled on it's way up to the surface

  11. Let me see your car work for five yrs without fixing something yet curiosity still going. The hubble telescope 30yrs american know how at its best.

  12. Here’s a silly thought, isn’t mars atmosphere slowly eroding due to solar wind. Unlike earths molten core cranking out a modest magnetic field, It’s (mars) core seems to be solidified+no longer producing a protective shield from the sun. Specific gaseous totals in the atmosphere keep rising and dropping, are they dropping or just being “blown away” by our sun.

  13. You should really start using Electric force for finding answers in space.
    Gravity & Chemical equations are getting us more confused rather than giving answers.

  14. I hope your Patreons do look into comments section as well because this is really very important, Science is going on a landslide.
    There are alternate theories which needs to be considered as well especially when we are not getting answers from one.
    Plasma Cosmology has a pretty good overall holding with easy explanation of everything including current anomalies such as black hole, dark matter etc.
    Please save science, We don't need more added anomalies.
    Just need answers which can be scaled from micro to macro.

  15. My best guess, there are underground isolated pockets of organisms much like the one found on earth. Movile cave was isolated for 5.5 million years, and has a diverse ecosystem that is rich in hydrogen sulfide and cabon dioxide, but low in oxygen. They are producing oxygen which is seeping through to the surface, and without any greenhouse atmosphere it is draining away at certain times due to mar's seasons and position.

  16. Why do I get the feeling that this, and most everything NASA says, is fiction made up to get funding and serve a political agenda ( e.g. , other scientists say nothing can get through the Van Allen belt).

  17. Well, there's a whole gang of people, called priests, that have answers to anything. They are even extent from paying taxes and all, unlike scientists or any other normal human on Earth. So, ask them about what's going on on Mars, they surely hold the absolute truth about what happens there too. Isn't it?

  18. We didn't sterilize the devices….!! It's probably us , tracking life behind us like the toilet paper on our shoe (Trump Reference). Let us HOPE…we didn't break "The Prime Directive" !!

  19. Mars could be Terraforming slowly. Where the is Argon, Nitrogen and Oxygen there is plant life. Where there is Methane there is microbial action and possibly an underground civilization…

  20. It's those Martians ,breathing in the Oxygen ,and farting out the Methane , that's what's happening , ohh and by the way ,if they wanted to find out if Mars once had water , why didn't they send the rover to the icy looking pole , does that make sense , or not , or maybe it's 500 below zero and it can't function there , just guessing . ohh ps this hasn't been peer reviewed ,yet .

  21. Ahhh it hasn't gone to peer review just yet ,that means that one pin head comes up with his dreamy ideas ,and then lots of other pin heads either agree or shoot him down in flames , and possibly none of them are right . lol .

  22. For mainstream science, every mystery that can be associated with alien life should be dismissed a priori.
    The "logical" explanation is always a non-biological one, even if it should be invented to explain the inexplicable.

  23. You jump cutting is repulsive. Ah–that's why I unsubscribed. You know pauses, in theory, AID UNDERSTANDING..,


  24. We need to get a craft to Enceladus, Europa, and Titan! We need to excite the mainstream people and get more private and public funding for these projects!

  25. In all honesty am i the only One that that doesnt like how much Energy she has i mean No offence but i think its rather anoying

  26. Im 100% sure that every planet in the universe is just an experiment of god trying to create planet that support life and earth was the last while mars and venus was close calls

  27. When there's not much of it, concentrations change at higher percentages than a high pressure planet like Earth or Venus…

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