This time the Rover has found some unexplainable variations in the levels of oxygen. Scientists have been using Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument to monitor the amount of various substances in the planet’s atmosphere and how they change seasonally. Yesterday they released the results of their findings for the last five years of monitoring data.
While many results weren’t surprising, the Oxygen defied all expectations.
Writing in the paper released yesterday the authors said Oxygen has shown “significant seasonal and inter-annual variability, suggesting an unknown atmospheric or surface process at work.
“The SAM measurements of [oxygen] in Gale crater do not show the annual stability or seasonal patterns that would be predicted based on the known sources and sinks in the atmosphere.”
The researchers found that there was a lot more oxygen than expected during the Martian northern hemisphere’s late spring to summer and far less oxygen than expected during the northern hemisphere’s winter.
NASA scientists have already posted many theories as to why this might be the case, including wrongly assuming that the rover was broken,but still are unsure why.
Melissa Trainer, a planetary scientist at NASA’s lamented “the fact that the oxygen behaviour isn’t perfectly repeatable every season makes us think that it’s not an issue that has to do with atmospheric dynamics.
“It has to be some chemical source and sink that we can’t yet account for.”
The news of the unexpected results comes as NASA’S Hubble Space Telescope snapped ominous black hole shadows creeping up the gas giant Jupiter.
Ganymede’s shadow sits on the far left edge, followed by Io’s shadow just to the right.
You can also see Io’s shadow on the far right edge of the Gas Giant.
If you watched the event from Jupiter, you would see the three moons pass directly in front of the Sun.
Home to a total of 79 moons NASA stressed the rarity of the event.
“Why is this triple eclipse so unique? Io, Ganymede, and Callisto orbit Jupiter at different rates.
“Their shadows likewise cross Jupiter’s face at different rates. For example, the outermost moon Callisto orbits the slowest of the three moons.
“Callisto’s shadow moves across the planet once for every 20 shadow crossings of Io.
“Add the crossing rate of Ganymede’s shadow and the possibility of a triple eclipse becomes even more rare.”