Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Herschel Mars observations: First results

Date:
September 21, 2010
Source:
Europlanet Media Centre
Summary:
The Herschel Space Observatory is providing its first exciting results on Mars. An accurate globally averaged temperature profile of the Martian atmosphere may cause scientists to revise their models about atmospheric circulation on Mars. And the first sub-millimeter observation of molecular oxygen on the planet may lead to a completely new picture of the oxygen distribution in the Martian atmosphere.

Artist's impression depicts Herschel against the Rosette molecular cloud.
Credit: ESA

The Herschel Space Observatory is providing its first exciting results on Mars. An accurate globally-averaged temperature profile of the Martian atmosphere may cause scientists to revise their models about atmospheric circulation on Mars. The first sub-millimeter observation of molecular oxygen on the planet may lead to a completely new picture of the oxygen distribution in the Martian atmosphere.

Related Articles


These are just a few of the new discoveries that are being presented by Dr. Paul Hartogh at the European Planetary Science Congress in Rome.

The Herschel Space Observatory (HSO) is a space-borne far-infrared observation facility of the European Space Agency, launched on 14 May 2009. The "Water and related chemistry in the Solar System" project was conceived with the sole aim to determine the origin, evolution, and distribution of water in Mars, the outer planets, Titan, Enceladus and the comets.

"Water vapor plays a key role in the Martian atmospheric chemistry and physics," says Dr. Hartogh of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. Herschel has observed Mars with its three instruments, the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI), the Photodetector Array Camera & Spectrometer, and the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE).

SPIRE has provided the first continuous spectrum of the Martian atmosphere in the spectral range in the far-IR/sub-mm, as well as, the first complete set of water vapor and carbon monoxide (CO) content in this range. "SPIRE was designed for very faint sources, however unexpectedly it could even provide high quality data from the brightest far infrared object Herschel observed in the solar system," says Dr. Hartogh.

HIFI has observed Mars between 11-16 April 2010. Only a small part of the data has been analyzed up to now, but it already provided some interesting results: A globally averaged temperature profile has been retrieved from the first simultaneous observations of two carbon monoxide isotopes. "The best fit of the Martian atmospheric model to these observations shows important differences compared to what we were predicting: between 40 and 80 km from the ground, the atmosphere appears to be more than 10 K colder than predicted," says Dr. Hartogh.

Scientists also report on the first sub-mm detection of O2 on Mars, with an observational accuracy at least 10 times better than was done before. "Our sub-mm observations provide for the first time a vertical profile of molecular oxygen in the Martian atmosphere. We found that, contrary to the general assumption of a constant O2 content independently of altitude, the Martian atmosphere is richer in oxygen near the ground and then O2 decreases rapidly with altitude," says Dr. Hartogh. If this profile is confirmed it may imply different oxygen production and loss processes not considered before, leading to new insights about the Martian atmosphere. "Obviously, much work still needs to be done on the vertical profile of O2 before we draw such conclusions," he adds cautiously.

Herschel will continue exploring our solar system in the next 2-3 years of its planned mission duration. "We hope that surprises and major breakthroughs in our knowledge will keep coming in, and that at the end we will have gained a unified picture of the origin and evolution of water in the Solar System objects," says Dr. Hartogh.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Europlanet Media Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Europlanet Media Centre. "Herschel Mars observations: First results." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100920122754.htm>.
Europlanet Media Centre. (2010, September 21). Herschel Mars observations: First results. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100920122754.htm
Europlanet Media Centre. "Herschel Mars observations: First results." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100920122754.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) China launched an experimental spacecraft Friday to fly around the moon and back to Earth in preparation for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins