NASA has discovered a methane source on Mars that can be emitted by organisms – NeeWS

A few years ago, the orbiter discovered methane in the Martian atmosphere. This sensational news has spread around the world and has given hope that there may still be some life forms on this planet because methane is associated with life on Earth. Astronomers wondered where it might come from. As the highest concentration of it occurred in the summer-autumn period, researchers thought that it was related to the vegetative period of plants or the reproductive season of microorganisms. Later, other interesting news about methane was provided by the European probe Mars Express.

It detected 15.5 parts per billion of methane during the summer / fall period in the atmosphere above Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover is now located. It was no coincidence that he landed there, because astrobiologists wanted to check if there was a biological life in the crater area that was responsible for methane emissions.

Although the robot during 9 years of exploration has discovered as many as 6 indications of methane emission, so far it has not found conclusive evidence of any forms of biological life that once existed there. Now the situation has changed a bit. Scientists analyzed the methane emission data obtained by the rover and found that the gas reaches the rover from one direction.

The methane emission area is located several dozen kilometers from Curiosity. This is both great and sad news. On the one hand, it is very close considering the size of Mars, but on the other hand, the rover cannot travel that distance. Curiosity is already 9 years old, so it can refuse to obey at any time.

Coming back to methane, astrobiologists point out that the most likely source may be a deposit of gas frozen under the rock formation. Every now and then it defrosts and the gas is released into the atmosphere. While methane does not appear to be released directly by living organisms, the decomposition of this gas occurs up to 300 years after it was emitted, meaning that something that produced it did so no more than 300 years ago, and quite possibly that he is much younger.

In a few years, a new rover and a fleet of drones will land on Mars. The devices will appear in the geologically most fascinating areas of this planet. Perhaps we will finally be able to have compelling evidence that life once existed there. Then we would be aware that there are more objects in the solar system that favored the development of biological life.

Source: GeekWeek.pl/NASA/Nature / Photo. NASA


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