There Life On Mars? Curiosity Discover Methane On Mars

Astronomy Science ~ NASA rover Curiosity recently discovered surprising things on Mars that could help scientists one step closer to findin...

Astronomy Science ~ NASA rover Curiosity recently discovered surprising things on Mars that could help scientists one step closer to finding out whether the Red Planet ever supported life.

Curiosity found the presence of methane gas sample in Gale Crater, Curiosity landing site, with a methane level of 0.7 parts per billion. Methane gas is one of the factors that support life than water. The findings of this methane is not the first time and the level of the latter findings indicate a pattern of methane fluctuations.

Within two months of the last measurement, Curiosity has found methane levels increased and decreased. In the last 60 days, the average rate of methane showed a 10-fold increase. Unfortunately, this gas is rapidly disappearing. The cause of the disappearance of gas is still studied by researchers.

The findings of the last methane levels lower than previously expected. However, these findings are still higher than in November last year, reaching 5.5 parts per billion. Just a two-week course, methane measured again and found a rate of 7 parts per billion.

This diagram illustrates the potential way of methane entering the atmosphere of Mars and disappear from the atmosphere.
Furthermore, in another measurement, a few weeks later, appeared 9 parts per billion. And six weeks later, methane levels fell back to a low level. The surge surprised researchers. Because, according to the study's lead author, Christopher Webster, scientists had hoped methane on Mars could have a life span of about 300 years, much longer than the gas trapped in the crater Gale.

Scientists speculate that the increase may be momentarily affected by wild methane gas around Curiosity. Hence, it is very sensitive around the rover vehicle before it disappears again. "Given the way the behavior of methane, we believe it is smaller (in number). Sources that are closer are more likely than larger sources and more distant sources," said Webster in the results of a study published in the journal Science.

The possibility of slight amounts of methane and volatile it is certainly disappointing scientists. Therefore, if the hypothesis is true a little methane, would weaken the potential for life on this planet. However, the limited findings of methane does not make finding mission marks an end of life. Researchers believe there are still other opportunities.

While Curiosity project scientist at the California Institute of Technology, USA, John Grotzinger, determined to uncover the latest findings puzzle. "Can we learn more about the active chemicals that cause fluctuations in the amount of methane in the atmosphere? Or possible we choose the target rocks that can be identified organic preserved?" he said.

Previously, scientists have seen fluctuations in the level of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, using planetary orbiters and search facilities. Researchers outside the study, said the new findings of the data Curiosity can help create better models of the Martian atmosphere.

With the fluctuation findings, Webster said investigators later could have narrowed the source of the methane, but probably not carried out this task Curiosity. Scientists, according to need some new tools on Mars were able to investigate the thin atmosphere of Mars.

He estimates that geological processes may be responsible for the release of methane gas on Mars. "It was a great surprise to us. And yet here we will write the next chapter of the study," he explained. While other studies published on journal Science also found samples of water, one of the other life-supporting elements. By utilizing clay samples, scientists have measured the hydrogen in the atmosphere of Mars about 3 to 3.7 billion years ago.

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AstroNation: There Life On Mars? Curiosity Discover Methane On Mars
There Life On Mars? Curiosity Discover Methane On Mars
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