Curiosity rover confirms Martian air mostly contains CO2
The Curiosity rover sent by NASA which landed on Mars on August 6, 2012 with the aim to explore the Red Planet has confirmed that its air is made mostly of carbon dioxide with hints of other gases.
This observation is very close to what the twin Viking Landers in the late 1970s detected from Martian meteorites the rock fragments that fell to Earth. The scientist were stunned as Viking found nitrogen to be the second most abundant gas in the Martian air but Curiosity’s measurements discovered a nearly equal abundance of nitrogen and argon which is a stable noble gas. The difference in the observation might be because of the different tools used.
Quest to resolve Mars’ Methane gas mystery
Scientists have not been able to solve the puzzle of methane gas on Mars. Several years ago, telescopes on Earth detected a surprising belch of methane in three regions in the Martian western hemisphere. However, the Curiosity team had not reported any definitive smell of methane near the landing site. Since then, the rover has taken several more air samples. To solve this mystery NASA is set to launch a Mars-orbiting spacecraft called Maven. The craft will target the Martian atmosphere to determine if it exists and the abundance and whether that varies by year or location.