According to a study of data and pictures sent by Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and Nasa’s Mars orbiter Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (Maven) has found that Mars is losing its atmosphere to outer space at a faster pace than Earth.
All the terrestrial planets are constantly losing their atmosphere to outer space. However, the rate of loss depends mainly on the size of the planet and the temperature of its’ upper atmosphere. According to a report in Times of India, the red planet is losing its atmosphere much faster since Mars is comparatively smaller in size than Earth.
ISRO published the findings on its website on Wednesday. These findings were observed by scientists in the images and data sent by MOM and Maven about a global dust storm that hit Mars in the months of June-July, 2018. The global storm of this kind is one of the most dynamical phenomena on Mars.
According to a quote published in TOI, ISRO stated that ” In June 2018, a “global dust storm” or “planet-encircling dust event” started growing on Mars and by July it reached its mature face. This phenomenon heated up and expanded the upper atmosphere of Mars which led to a part of the planet’s atmosphere reaching the exobase altitude (which lies at 220 km).
Any hot gases above this altitude are likely to move to further higher altitudes and thereby scape to outer space. Hence, from the results, it can be concluded that the 2018 global dust storm resulted in the rapid escape of the Martian atmosphere.”
The MOM was launched on 5th November 2013 by ISRO. It was placed in the Martian orbit on 24 September 2014. The mission was initially planned for 6 months, but even 7 years later it sends images and data and has helped in discovering various key findings.