NASA has detected oxygen in the upper Martian atmosphere with the help of an instrument on board the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Oxygen had been discovered on the red planet before; however, this is the first time its presence has been verified in wake of the Viking and Mariner missions more than 40 years ago.
The oxygen atoms were detected in the upper atmosphere of Mars called the mesosphere. The discovery will help shed light on how gases escaped from the Martian atmosphere millions of years ago. Although oxygen has been detected on Mars in the past, the amount of oxygen detected was half of what the researchers anticipated, which may be due to differences in the atmosphere.