(Universe Today) Volunteers in Russia are testing the ability of humans to breathe argon-enriched air, as part of a research program that simulates a manned trip to Mars. Researchers want to know if humans can survive breathing air similar to that found on Mars. Of the experiment one Russian scientist said, "Our experiments show that argon combined with the right portion of oxygen is safe for humans. I tested it on myself and I'm OK, and volunteers are also doing fine."
Despite the fact that argon is apart of the Martian atmosphere, some may wonder why the scientists chose that over nitrogen, since their is more nitrogen than argon on the red planet.
The answer lies with the fact that argon is a lot safer than nitrogen, as the latter has the potential to bond with oxygen (via static heat), which can form Nitric Oxide--or even worse, Nitrogen Dioxide), which can be fetal towards humans.
Argon on the other hand is not only non-toxic, but it can resist bonding with other elements (as it is more stable) giving future astronauts fewer headaches to worry about.
This makes Argon the perfect "filler gas" (as pure oxygen is too dangerous), and this experiment may make it possible for humans to one day visit, and perhaps live on Mars.
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