Scientists have been searching for an habitable planet like Earth for a long time. While we still have a long way to go before exploring other solar systems, the closest we can get with our own one is Mars.
This is why our space scientists keep a close eye on the red planet. Through our extensive research mission, we have so far found out that Mars has got salty, liquid water on its surface as well as possible traces of microbial life lurking within the sediments.
But the latest discovery made by another NASA mission called SOFIA – the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – is set to blow our minds like nothing before.
It has been found that there are traces of Atomic Oxygen in the Mars‘ atmosphere. Atomic oxygen, unlike regular oxygen, is responsible for controlling several atmospheric processes, including energy and mass flow into and out of the planet.
It is also important for regulating the amount of heat that is lost from Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. All these capabilities make it a great element to discover, fueling hope for possible future colonization of Mars.
The SOFIA project that discovered this element is actually a flying observatory attached to a Boeing 747SP, that uses highly sensitive instruments to measure different things on different planets, both close and far away from earth.
It is designed to fly between 11.3 and 13.7 kilometers (37,000 and 45,000 feet) above ground, which lets it collect proper readings that don’t get confused by the earth’s atmosphere.
The scientists involved with the project will keep tracking Mars to see if they can find further evidence of potential life on the planet.