NASA's curiosity found something new on Mars last week and the results could have consequences life on the red planet.
Rover's tuneable laser spectrometer, known as sample analysis on Mars (SAM), It discovered the largest amount of methane measured during the mission.
The reading indicated 21 parts per billion units per volume, or ppbv. This means that the volume of air on Mars evaluated one billion of the volume of air is methanesaid the agency.
So why is this unusually large amount of methane so interesting? On Earth, microbial life is an important source of methane. But the agency also warned that longevity would be handled because of that The interaction between stones and water can also create methane, and Mars has water and many stones.
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"With our current measurements, we have no way of knowing whether the methane source is biological or geological, or even ancient or modern, "said SAM chief researcher Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The origin of methane will not be immediately apparent because the rover does not have any instrument that can trace or determine the source.. At this time, you can't even be sure that methane comes from a place in Gale Crater, where curiosity is, or it came out from another place on Mars.
This is not the first time that methane is detected on Mars by curiosity. During its mission since the landing in August 2012, Curiosity has discovered methane many times and studies have been written about how the gas levels seem to increase and decrease depending on the season.
Curiosity has also discovered methane peaks, which appear suddenly, however Researchers have not been able to determine how long the peaks go or why they differ from the known seasonal and downturns.
The team behind the spectrometer sent an experiment to the rover over the weekend to determine if this was due to a nail that would look like a transient column. Although no more methane is detected, it can provide more information about the event being measured.
Curiosity's scientific team takes time to study the measurements and prepare for more detections.
They will also communicate with other science teams. The European Space Agency, which launched Spårgas Orbiter last year, will be a key partner. Your orbiter has not yet discovered methane. The two organs can match the measurements of the web and the surface.
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The two different locations can help researchers decide where the gas originates on the planet and how long it can be in the atmosphere.
Previous discoveries on Mars
In June 2018, Organic substance was found on Mars by Curiosity in soil samples taken from a 3 billion year old clay in Gale Crater. The rover also discovered methane in the martian atmosphere.
The search for life outside the earth focuses on the building blocks of life as we know it, which includes organic compounds and molecules, although these can exist without life. Organic matter can be one of several things: a record describing old life, a source of food for life or something that is in the place of life.
Whatever its purpose, these work like "Chemical Tracks" for researchers studying Mars.
Methane is considered the simplest organic molecule. It is present elsewhere in our solar system that can end up in life, for example the moon of Saturn and Jupiter, Enceladus, Europe and Titan. And if there is life elsewhere, it can be very different or even shaped differently from how we understand life on earth.
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For six years, Curiosity has used its Tunable Laser Spectrometer to measure methane in the atmosphere of Gale Crater. Before, researchers could not understand why the small methane found in the martial atmosphere varied. With six years of data from a single site, they now have answers.
There is a seasonal variation in methane that is repeated, which means that Methane is released from the Mars surface or from reservoirs beneath the surface. Methane can even catch in water-based crystals below the surface.
Methane is a strong greenhouse gas and may have had a climate that encourages the lakes on Mars. It can even happen under the surface now. Emissions of methane are an active process on Mars as can suggest new things about what is developing on the red planet.
The detection of this organic molecule in the atmosphere, in combination with the discovery of organic compounds in the soil, has important implications for the potential life on Mars in its past.
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The crazy crater was probably habitable for 3,500 million years ago, According to what curiosity has shown us. Then the conditions would have been comparable to the earth. This is also when life evolved on our own planet.
When learning that these molecules and compounds were present, then It gives new strength to the idea that life originated or existed on Mars and that more work by the march researchers could discover the past.