Mars apparently emits a large amount of gas, which could be a sign that microbes live on the planet .
NASA conducted a survey on Wednesday Curious people discovered astonishing amounts of methane in the Martian air, a gas normally produced on Earth by living things. The data hit Earth again on Thursday, and on Friday scientists working on the mission were excitedly discussing the news that NASA had not yet announced.
"Given this startling result, we have reorganized the running weekend a follow-up experiment" Ashwin R. Vasavada the project scientist for the mission, wrote to the science team in an email sent by The Times was obtained.
People have long been fascinated by the possibility of aliens on Mars. The Viking countries of NASA photographed a bleak landscape in the 1970s. Two decades later, planetary scientists thought that Mars could have been warmer, wetter, and more habitable in his youth about four billion years ago. Now they entertain the idea that if Mars ever had any life on Mars, the microbial offspring of Mars would have immigrated underground and could continue there.
Methane, when present in the thin Martian air, is significant because sunlight and chemical reactions would cause the molecules to break down within a few centuries. Therefore, the now proven methane must have been released recently.
On Earth, microbes known as methanogens thrive in places where oxygen is lacking, e.g. However, geothermal reactions without biology can also produce methane.
It is also possible that the methane is ancient, has been trapped in Mars for millions of years, but at times escapes through cracks, orbiting spacecraft built and still in operation by the European Space Agency, as well as Earth's telescopes. These results, however, pushed the limits of the detection power of these tools, and many researchers thought methane might be the illusion of false data.
When Curiosity arrived on Mars in 2012, it was looking for methane and
found nothing, or at least less than 1 part per billion in the atmosphere. Then, in 2013, a sudden increase of up to 7 parts per billion was noted, lasting at least a few months.
The methane ebbed.
The measurement this week showed 21 parts per billion methane, or three times the peak of 2013.
Even before this week's discovery, the mystery of methane deepened.
Curiosity scientists developed a technique that allowed the Rover with its existing tools to detect even lower levels of methane. The gas seems to rise and fall with the seasons of the red planet. A new analysis of the old Mars Express readings confirmed Curiosity's 2013 results. One day after Curiosity reported a methane peak, the orbiter running above Curiosity's position also peaked.
However, the Trace Gas Orbiter, a newer European spacecraft launched in 2016 with more sensitive instruments, failed to detect methane at this location, all in its first series of scientific observations last year.
Marco Giuranna, a scientist at the National Institute of Astrophysics in Italy, who directs the methane measurements of the Mars Express orbiter, said scientists on the missions Curiosity, Mars Express and Trace Gas Orbiter had discussed the latest findings. He confirmed that he had been told the value of 21 parts per billion, but added that the finding was preliminary.
He said Mars Express crossed Gale Crater, the 96-mile-wide depression Curiosity investigated on the day that curiosity measured. There are other observations on earlier and later dates, Dr. Giuranna, including joint observations with the trace gas orbiter.
"Many data needs to be processed," Dr. Giuranna in an email. "There will be some preliminary results next week."
Rovers, whose launch is planned for next year – one from NASA, one from a Russian-European collaboration – will include tools to search for the building blocks of life can, even if no should answer the question, if there is life on Mars today.