One and a half decades ago, three scientists reported that they detected methane in the Martian atmosphere. Two observations used from Earth, and the third used data from Mars Express. All measurements were at the edge of the instrument's capabilities.
Two years later, the methane seemed to have disappeared. If this finding was correct, it indicated not only that something on Mars produced methane, but also that something else quickly destroyed it about 0.7 parts per billion. In 2013, 2013 levels jumped by a factor of 10. In the following January, they fell again below 1 part per billion. The methane disappeared so fast and the usual concentrations are so low that the scientists are now trying to explain how methane could have been destroyed so quickly.
"It confirms the hypothesis that Mars is currently active," said Sushil Atreya, a planetary scientist at the University of Michigan and a member of the Curiosity science team.
The findings of the Mars Express also suggest a possible source of methane, about 300 miles east of Gale. In this region, ice must be just below the surface. "That methane could be released episodically along flaws that break through permafrost by partially melting ice," Dr. Giuranna. 19659002] Dr. med. Atreya is less sure of this conclusion, which implies assumptions about the marten weather. The Curiosity scientists believed that the methane was formed in Gale north of the rover.