Sniff…Sniff: NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected a large amount of Gas on the surface of Mars that may be the ultimate evidence of microbes inhabiting the planet right now.
Mars, together perhaps with our Moon, are two of the most interesting location Mankind is looking to conquer in the next few decades. One of those locations, Mars, is promising because there could already be life there.
Measurements taken by the Curiosity rover has revealed a striking presence of methane in the Martian air.
On Earth, this gas is mostly produced by living organisms, although it can also be produced by other processes.
Sniffing out Gas on Mars
The new, although still not announced directly by NASA has been revealed by Ashwin R. Vasavada, the project scientist for the mission who explained to the Times: “Given this surprising result, we’ve reorganized the weekend to run a follow-up experiment.”
Now the rover has put aside all other scientific work and has been tasked to continue ‘sniffing around’ looking for more evidence of Methane on the surface.
The results of the new analysis are expected to be revealed on the 24 of June.
The Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars since it touched down on the surface in 2012.
Since then, it has helped us rewrite the history of Mars, and find out new details of a planet that was once considered to be dead and barren, especially void of life.
But the new discoveries are continuing to rewrite what we know about Mars, and the latest finds could even prove there’s alien life on Mars now.
Methane: Origin unknown
So where exactly did the Methane on Mars come from?
The short answer is: we don’t really know. But there are reasons to believe it may be coming from living organisms.
Because here on Earth, methanogens, are microorganisms that produce methane as a metabolic byproduct in hypoxic conditions.
But methane can also be produced by geothermal reactions unrelated to biology.
That’s why we need to continue science on Mars.
There’s also a chance that the methane is actually ancient methane on Mars, that has remained trapped inside the planet for millions of years, and it’s known coming to the surface through cracks, reports the New York Times.
“To maintain scientific integrity, the project science team will continue to analyze the data before confirming results,” revealed a spokesman from NASA on Saturday.
Not the first Methane detected
Methane has already been detected on Mars previously. In fact, measurements from Mars Express detected traces of the gas on the surface of the planet.
In 2013, Curiosity also detected a sudden spike of Methane in the Martian atmosphere, up to 7 parts per billion that lasted at least a couple of months. Eventually, the methane disappeared.
But the newest measurements by Curiosity now found 21 parts per billion of methane, which is around three times the 2013 spike, reveals the New York Times.