A Giant Hole in the Martian Atmosphere Is Venting All Its Water into Space

Space.com | 5/21/2019 | Rafi Letzter
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There's a hole in the Martian atmosphere that opens once every two years, venting the planet's limited water supply into space — and dumping the rest of the water at the planet's poles.

That's the explanation advanced by a team of Russian and German scientists who studied the odd behavior of water on the Red Planet. Earthbound scientists can see that there's water vapor high in the Martian atmosphere, and that water is migrating to the planet's poles. But until now, there was no good explanation for how the Martian water cycle works, or why the once-drenched planet is now a dry husk.

Martian - Middle - Atmosphere - Water - Vapor

"The Martian middle atmosphere is too cold to sustain water vapor," the researchers wrote in the study, which was published April 16 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

So how is water crossing that middle-layer barrier?

Answer - Computer - Simulations - Study - Processes

The answer, according to computer simulations in the current study, has to do with two atmospheric processes unique to the Red Planet.

On Earth, summer in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemispheres are pretty similar. But that's not the case on Mars: Because the planet’s orbit is much more eccentric than Earth’s, it’s significantly closer to the sun during its southern hemisphere summer (which happens once every two Earth years). So summers on that part of the planet are much warmer than summers in the Northern Hemisphere.

Researchers - Simulations - Window - Mars - Middle

When that happens, according to the researchers' simulations, a window opens in Mars' middle atmosphere between 37 and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Space.com
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