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Martian atmosphere was oxygen-rich

Posted on:  | 26 Apr 2016

The rusted soil that gives Mars its distinctive red color has long been evidence of ancient oxygen on Mars. But the recent discovery of rocks with manganese oxide in them proves that the martian atmosphere was once even richer with oxygen than previously thought, New Scientist reports. The creation of manganese oxide requires even more oxygen than Mars’s iron soil rusting, along with flowing water. Based on the latest estimate—announced at this week’s meeting of the European Geophysical Union—there might have been too much oxygen on Mars, at least when it comes to making life: The oxidation process is very efficient at breaking up cellular structures. But whatever oxygen was once there is long gone, and Mars’s atmosphere today is only 0.13% oxygen.
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