Curiosity Rover has been finding evidence of past (or even present) life on the Red Planet. In 2014, the rover may have achieved this in a moment of increase in atmospheric methane in its vicinity and found traces of complex organic molecules in drill samples while poking around in the Gale Crater.
About a year ago, Curiosity struck pay dirt again when it is found in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks located near the surface of lower Mount Sharp. Curiosity rover made even more profound discovery when it detected the largest amount of methane ever measured on the surface of Mars (
The samples were taken from a spot designated as "Teal Ridge", at the outcropping of layered bedrock that is part of the larger region known as the "clay bearing unit". The rover has been on the ridge since mid-June in the hopes of characterizing the unusual feature, which is located in the middle of a sea of sand and pebbles.
The detection of methane by the Rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) tunable laser spectrometer. But before that gets too excited, it's not yet known what could be causing this methane. Search is the mystery of Martian methane, which could be the result of microbes beneath the surface, or because of the interplay between rocks and water.
At present, both the cause of the methane and its
Based on previous findings, methane levels on Mars rise and fall seasonally. Sudden spikes in methane have therefore been observed, which appears to be unrelated to seasonal patterns and have unknown duration. The SAM team organized a follow-up methane experiment.
The results of this experiment were received on Monday morning (June 24th) and showed that methane levels [decreased]
While they have come to a close, they have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a leak. As Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained:
"The methane mystery continues. In the meantime, the Curiosity team will be analyzing the more obtained about these questions. They also want to combine methane on Mars, including the ESA's Trace Gas Orbiter which has been in orbit for a year looking for signs of methane.
In addition, when the Mars 2020 rover lands on the Red Planet, it seeks to use sources of methane using an instrument known as SHERLOC – which stands for Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals. This ultraviolet Raman spectrometer intends to use fine-scale imaging and ultraviolet (UV) lasers to continue the search for organism.
and where they originate from. Once that is done, we may finally find out what the source of Mars' methane is, and whether or not it is an indication of past or present life!
Further Reading: NASA