As the Mars Curiosity rover ended its examination of rock layers that were identified in the Pahrump Hills in Mars’ Gale Crater last winter, some of the researchers in the rover group were busy in analysis of the heavy noble gas xenon in the planet’s atmosphere. Chemically noble gases are inert that means that they never react with other substances present on the ground or in the air. That’s why their state is an excellent measure of the atmosphere’s history. Xenon is located at low levels in the Red Planet’s atmosphere that’s why it can only be measured directly applying on-web-site experiments such as SAM.
“Xenon is a fundamental measurement to make on a planet such as Mars or Venus, since it supplies critical information and facts to understand the early history of these planets and why they turned out so differently from Earth,” mentioned Melissa Trainer, a member of the SAM group.