Millibars on Mars: Exploring the Atmosphere of the Red Planet


Dr. Kimberly Strong

University of Toronto

Department of Physics

"Millibars on Mars: Exploring the Atmosphere of the Red Planet".


The planet Mars, with its red surface, deep valleys, towering mountains, and possible potential for life, has fascinated humanity for many years.  While the atmosphere of Mars is much thinner than that of Earth, the trace gases found in it provide us with a window into the past history and current state of the planet.  Such gases can act as markers for geological processes, cometary or meteoritic impacts, and possibly even biological activity.  In this talk, I will review our current understanding of the Martian atmosphere and describe some of the methods that we can use to probe its composition and temperature structure, with a focus on solar occultation and airglow.  I will present observations from recent missions to the planet, identify some of the questions that still remain, and discuss how we might be able to answer them.

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