Detection of Molecular Oxygen on Mars

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Science  15 Sep 1972:
Vol. 177, Issue 4053, pp. 988-992
DOI: 10.1126/science.177.4053.988


Molecular oxygen was detected in martian spectra near 7635 angstroms and its abundance measured both during and after the 1971 dust storm. Its column abundance in the clear martian atmosphere is about 10.4 ± 1.0 centimeters amagat, giving a mixing ratio of molecular oxygen to carbon dioxide of 1.3 x 10-3. The mixing ratio of molecular oxygen to carbon monoxide (1.4 ± 0.3) is quite different from the value of 0.5 that would result from the photolysis of a pure carbon dioxide atmosphere, which indicates that there is or was a net source of oxygen relative to carbon (probably water) in the martian atmosphere.