The mystery of Mars methane continues.
The NASA Curiosity Rover has seen its highest ever measured colorless, odorless gas content over its seven-year mission on the Red Planet last week.
But a follow up on this weekend revealed that methane has returned to the background, NASA said on Tuesday, suggesting that the temporary increase was caused by one of Curiosity's past transient swells.
Scientists have seen a seasonal increase in and a decline in methane levels in the background, but we have not been able to find a pattern for the transient clouds.
"More than ever, we are motivated to continue measuring and putting our brains together to find out how methane behaves in the Martian atmosphere," said Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist at Curiosity, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
NASA added that Curiosity has no instruments that can definitively tell whether the methane source is a by-product of living organisms or the result of geological phenomena.
A leading theory states that methane is released from underground reservoirs created by long extinct life forms.
Although Mars has no active volcanoes on earth, so too is it possible for methane to be produced by reactions of carbon from carbonate rocks or carbon dioxide with hydrogen from liquid water.
Curiosity Rover finds high methane levels on Mars
A methane burp on Mars melts away (2019, June 26)
retrieved on June 26, 2019
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