Washington: Researchers have recently developed a map of water vapor distribution in Mars' atmosphere, it has been reported.
Research from Russian scientists from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), together with their French and American colleagues, included observations of seasonal variations in atmospheric concentrations using data collected over ten years by the Russian-French SPICAM spectrometer aboard the Mars Express orbiter.
This was the longest period of observation and provides the largest volume of data about water vapor on Mars. The new updated version of the instrument was built with the participation of the Space Research Institute as part of the agreement between RosCosmos and the French space agency CNES for the Mars Express orbiter.
The apparatus was launched on June 2, 2003 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome using a Russian Soyuz rocket launcher with a Fregat propulsion stage. At the end of December 2003, Mars Express entered a near-Mars orbit and since then has been operating successfully, collecting data on the planet and its surroundings.
Staff of the Space Research Institute and MIPT, including Alexander Trokhimovsky, Anna Fyodorova, Oleg Korablyov and Alexander Rodin, together with their colleagues from the French laboratory LATMOS and NASA's Goddard Center, have analysed a mass of data obtained by observing water vapor in Mars' atmosphere using an infrared spectrometer that is part of the SPICAM instrument over a period of five Martian years (about 10 Earth years as a year on Mars is equal to 1.88 Earth years).
The content of water vapour in the atmosphere reaches a maximum level of 60-70 microns of released water in the northern regions during the summer season. The summer maximum in the southern hemisphere is significantly lower, about 20 microns.
The scientists have also established a significant, by 5-10 microns, reduction in the concentration of water vapor during global sandstorms, which was probably connected to the removal of water vapor from the atmosphere due to adsorption processes and condensation on surfaces.