The NASA Curiosity Rover detected high methane emissions during its mission on the Martian surface, the New York Times reports. The discovery, made during a robot-based survey conducted by NASA researchers on Wednesday, may suggest that microbial life forms are located underground on Mars.
Methane is present in the air on Earth due to frequently higher concentrations of living matter emissions, which is why researchers will look closer to see if they can find further evidence supporting the theory that the gas is from underground marine microbes exit. If everything goes according to plan, we should hear more about these follow-up observations as early as Monday when researchers expect Curiosity to return the results of its new investigative process.
Any measurable amount of methane detected by Curiosity would be a tripwire for Mars researcher, since the gas would probably have been produced by an organism only recently if the reading were correct, otherwise it would naturally be incorporated into its constituents in a relatively short time would fall apart. That said, it is worth noting that methane can be produced without living organisms and can be buried by tiny cracks from underground reservoirs and escape to the surface.
The NYT notes that this is not the first time researchers have discovered traces of methane on Mars, but it is the highest concentration ever detected, and the rover readings were, at least for the time being, by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter NASA confirmed. Remember that this is not the first time we've had potential evidence of life beyond Earth. So far, however, nothing definite has been discovered, suggesting that the earth is not unique to supporting living organisms.