Bizarre: Scientist found atomic oxygen on Mars’ upper atmosphere for the first time. Almost four decades ago, there were some sign of it. That doesn't mean there's life down on the surface of the Red Planet. Atomic oxygen is not the same thing as the oxygen we breathe. The oxygen that we survive on is two oxygen atoms linked to form O2, while atomic oxygen is just a single oxygen atom.
“Atomic oxygen affects how other gases escape Mars and therefore has a significant impact on the planet’s atmosphere,” said NASA.
In 2015, scientists came to the conclusion that around 3.5 billion years ago, Mars mysteriously lost its magnetic field, allowing huge bursts of energy from the Sun to gradually strip it of its atmosphere. This stripping is still happening today.
And this is where atomic oxygen comes into play.
Researchers from NASA found oxygen atoms in Mars' upper atmosphere. The team was able to get an accurate reading due to the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which is a Boeing 747SP jetliner with a 100-inch diameter telescope.
NASA would continue to use SOFIA to gather more information on the changing atmosphere on Mars.
The last attempt at observing atomic oxygen in the Mars was 40 years ago.