Share article:
Share article:

New gas detected on Mars

© Belga

Hydrogen chloride has been detected for the first time on planet Mars, discovered by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter satellite co-operated by the European (ESA) and Russian (Roscosmos) space agencies.

The satellite has been collecting atmospheric data on Mars since the spring of 2018, searching for methane but also new gases, the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy said in a press release.

Now the latest research of the Red Planet has led to the discovery of hydrogen chloride, a halogen gas. It’s the first time that the gas has been detected there and “represents a new chemical cycle to understand.”

How did this gas, composed of a hydrogen atom and a chlorine atom, end up in the Martian atmosphere?

It comes from salts in the form of sodium chloride, remnants of ancient oceans evaporated and trapped on the dusty surface of Mars, the Aeronomy Institute explains. These salts are then lifted into the atmosphere with the winds.

“Sunlight warms the atmosphere, causing dust to rise, as well as water vapour (H2O) released by ice caps. Salt dust reacts with atmospheric water to release chlorine, which itself reacts with molecules containing hydrogen to create hydrogen chloride.”

To release chlorine, water vapour is needed. Hydrogen is also needed to form this gas. Martian dust also plays its part, with more hydrogen chloride (HCI) observed as dust activity increases.

“In-depth laboratory tests and new global atmospheric simulations will be necessary to better understand” the phenomenon behind the presence of chlorine. Continuous observations should also confirm that “the rise and fall of HCl is due to summer in the southern hemisphere.”

The Brussels Times

Latest news

European Council: Decisions on Covid-19 and energy and debate on other issues
At the two-days summit which ended on Friday, the European Council adopted conclusions on COVID-19, digital, energy prices, migration, trade and ...
Flanders ‘water bomb’ could cause €2 billion in damages and affect thousands
The next "water bomb" or heavy rainfall over Flanders could cause damages estimated at around €2 billion, and could affect up to 100,000 people in ...
Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine 90% effective in 5 to 11-year-olds
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 90.7% effective in preventing symptomatic forms of the coronavirus in children aged five to 11, Pfizer announced on ...
Belgian airport named best for cargo in Europe
Brussels Airport has been named the best airport in Europe in a 2021 roundup of the best cargo airports across the world. The Asian Freight, ...
NASA plans first return mission to Moon in February 2022
The United States space agency, NASA, has announced that it will be aiming to launch its first, uncrewed mission to the moon, Artemis 1, in February ...
New, reportedly more contagious Delta mutation being monitored
A new mutation of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is reported to be more contagious, is being monitored by health authorities in the ...
Angèle releases new single: ‘Bruxelles je t’aime’
Belgian singer Angèle has unveiled her latest song ahead of the release of her new album, due later this year. 'Bruxelles je t'aime' (Brussels I ...
23 million chickens and 1.7 million pigs: Climate experts call for livestock cut
Flander's livestock needs to be drastically cut to save the climate and reach the emission reduction targets, according to the latest advice from the ...
Vaccination uptake surges in Wallonia following CST announcement
The number of people getting vaccinated against the coronavirus increased fourfold in Wallonia after it was announced that the Covid Safe Ticket ...
Guilty by association
BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES Weekly analysis and untold stories With SAM MORGAN Other Brussels behind the scenes stories: Brussels' bid to make ...
Health minister supports use of Covid Safe Ticket in workplace
As the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) has been expanded in Brussels and is set to in Wallonia, federal health minister Frank Vandenbroucke has ...
Maggots show Conings may have lived longer following disappearance
Former army soldier Jürgen Conings, whose disappearance in mid-May resulted in a month-long manhunt, may have been alive for longer than has been ...