On Mars discovered unusually high levels of methane which may indicate life on the planet, The New York Times reported, citing the space Agency NASA. The official announcement from NASA until it was not, however, according to the source, experts at the American space Agency conducted an analysis of the this week on Thursday the data collected by marsokhod “Curiosity” and found in the Martian atmosphere significant quantities of methane, a gas that on Earth is usually produced by living organisms.
“Considering how amazing were the results, we have rearranged his schedule to spend the weekend experiment that will confirm or refute our observations,” he wrote in the Times obtained the email from an employee of the mission, Ashwin R. Vasavada.
On Friday the mission team on the Ground have requested additional data of the Rover to check and find out whether it was true that Mars can be live microorganisms capable of producing methane. The research results are expected on Monday, June 24.
Methane — a sign of life?
People for a long time admired the probability of the existence of life on Mars. However, stranded on the surface of the red planet in the 70-ies the spacecraft NASA Viking found no one, photographing only a desolate landscape. Two decades after that, scientists have suggested that about 4 billion years ago when Mars was very young, the planet was warmer, wetter and more habitable. Currently, there are assumptions that on the surface of Mars was once able to Harbor life, but later she migrated deeper under the surface, escaping from the unfavorable conditions occurring from the top.
The presence of methane in the highly rarefied atmosphere of the present Mars has a very important because the Sun’s radiation and chemical reactions can destroy its molecules for several centuries. The detection of methane now suggests that the atmosphere he fell recently.
On Earth, methane is produced by microbes, methanogens, living in places where there is lack of oxygen, for example, deep underground, in the digestive tracts of animals (including humans) – methane is a byproduct of their metabolism. However, methane can be produced in certain quantities and the result of geothermal reactions, where there is no question of biology. It is possible that in the atmosphere of Mars it came from underground deposits through small cracks in the ground. Therefore to do definitive conclusions about its nature NASA is not yet ready and therefore talking about the event as “early scientific results”.
Referring to the representative of the Agency, The New York Times reported that to comply with scientific certainty the team will continue data analysis and then will be able to make an official statement.
On Mars discovered a very high concentration of methane
This is not the first time that researchers have found traces of methane on Mars, but at the moment he was found in the highest concentration. About 15 years ago, he was found by the spacecraft Mars Express the European space Agency. However, at that time his level of performance was so low that many scientists mistook him for a simple mistake in these calculations the probe.
Stranded on the Red planet in 2012, the Mars Rover “Curiosity” diligently analyzed soil samples in search of methane, which could also indicate the existence of life on Mars, but found nothing. Then, in 2013, the Rover found an unexpected increase in the concentration of methane in a ratio of 7 parts per billion, which lasted at least several months. Then, the methane was gone.
In the last measurements “Curiosity” “smelled” 21 particle methane per billion, three times more than in 2013. However, this opening nothing is yet confirmed.
Team mission “Curiosity” has developed a special method that allows the device to detect even small gas concentrations in the atmosphere with the help of available on Board tools. Because of this, scientists have found, it seems that the methane appears in the atmosphere of Mars is seasonal. New data from the orbiting Mars Express have confirmed these observationsand has prompted scientists to think about where it can be taken from the methane. However, launched by the European space Agency in 2016 year, more modern and equipped with more sensitive scientific instruments, the spacecraft Trace Gas Orbiter already couldn’t detect the gas concentration in the atmosphere of the planet.
According to Marco Giuranna from the National Institute of astrophysics in Italy, who heads the program for the measurement of methane in the Martian atmosphere by Mars Express, the team’s “Curiosity”, the Mars Express and the Trace Gas Orbiter are already discussing the latest discovery of the American Rover. Source of the news, he confirmed that he reported the rate of 21 parts per billion, but added that these are preliminary results.
Giuranna also added that on the same day, when the Curiosity Rover was obtained current data near the Gale crater with a diameter of 154 kilometres over the same territory has passed the European Orbiter Mars Express. According to Giuranna in the hands of scientists, there are also data that were collected before the observations of “Curiosity”, as well as after, including data received from the Orbiter Trace Gas Orbiter.
“I’ll have to check a lot of data. But some preliminary results are already in the beginning of next week,” explained Giuranna.
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