Curiosity it happened on Mars August 6, 2012, after traveling for several months through space. The rover's original mission was to collect data from the Gale Crater, an area with rich geological history.
However, NASA had to face many hurdles, and many additional costs that nearly gave the project a fatal blow several times.
The agency and its partners did, however, hold on to their mission, convinced of the mission's interest in our understanding of Mars.
Mars would also benefit from the oxygen cycle
They were right. Curiosity gave us a new look at the red planet and allowed us to learn a lot about it. And if we ever manage to build a Martian colony, then it will be largely thanks to him and his team.
But if we talk about the rover today, it's a completely different subject. The team in charge of the mission has indeed indicated that it has made a surprising new discovery.
By consulting the data collected from the curiosity, the researchers found an unexpected variation in the oxygen level on Mars. According to the results of the study, the rover discovered "Significant seasonal and inter-annual variability, indicating unknown atmospheric or surface treatment". In other words, the oxygen level present in the Martian atmosphere is not constant and periodically varies according to a still unknown process.
There's better. This finding is unrelated to the accuracy of the phenomenon and actually results in an analysis of data from the last three years of Marsian, years corresponding to approximately five land years.
The authors therefore suggest that there is an oxygen cycle on Mars. Rates increase from late fall to winter for curiosity, and they drop dramatically with the advent of summer Mars.
Mars, a planet full of mysteries
For the time being, researchers have not been able to determine the cause of these variations, but they believe that this could be due to the decomposition of water or carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere.
Which would also mean that the red planet would have more water or carbon dioxide than expected:
"The fact that the behavior of oxygen is not perfectly reproducible every season made us think that it is not a problem related to the dynamics of the atmosphere. It must be a source and sink of chemicals that we cannot yet explain. "
It must be remembered that this is not the first time Curiosity has made an unexpected discovery. Earlier in the year, the rover also observed a fluctuation of methane in the atmosphere and the planet, which ultimately proves that we still do not know much about Mars.