Mars has dramatic carbon dioxide atmospheric shifts

Of note: “Unlike Earth, which has a thick, moist atmosphere that produces a strong greenhouse effect, Mars’ atmosphere is too thin and dry to produce as strong a greenhouse effect as Earth’s, even when you double its carbon-dioxide content.”

Thickness Map of Buried Carbon-Dioxide Deposit A newly found, buried deposit of frozen carbon dioxide — dry ice — near the south pole of Mars contains about 30 times more carbon dioxide than previously estimated to be frozen near the pole. This map color-codes thickness estimates of the deposit derived and extrapolated from observations by the Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARAD) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The orbiter does not pass directly over the pole, and the thickness estimates for that area (with smoother transitions from color to color) are extrapolations. Red corresponds to about 600 meters or yards thick; yellow to about 400; dark blue to less than 100, tapering to zero. The scale bar at lower right is 100 kilometers (62 miles). The background map, in muted colors, represents different geological materials near the south pole. The estimated total volume of this buried carbon-dioxide deposit is 9,500 to 12,500 cubic kilometers (2,300 to 3,000 cubic miles).

NASA Orbiter Reveals Big Changes in Mars’ Atmosphere

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has discovered the total amount of atmosphere on Mars changes dramatically as the tilt of the planet’s axis varies. This process can affect the stability of liquid water, if it exists on the Martian surface, and increase the frequency and severity of Martian dust storms.

Researchers using the orbiter’s ground-penetrating radar identified a large, buried deposit of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, at the Red Planet’s south pole. The scientists suspect that much of this carbon dioxide enters the planet’s atmosphere and swells the atmosphere’s mass when Mars’ tilt increases. The findings are published in this week’s issue of the journal Science.

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