Mars: NASA rover detects methane on the air, could be the sign of life

NASA rover Mars methane

Mars NASA rover methane — NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has found a high content of a gas in the atmosphere of Mars that could indicate the presence of living microorganisms on the red planet, reports the New York Times.

According to the report, the Martian air samples were taken by Curiosity last Wednesday. The data arrived on Earth on Thursday, and by Friday, scientists working on the mission determined that there was a high concentration of methane, which on Earth is normally produced by living things. However, the news has not yet been officially announced by NASA.

“Given this surprising result, we have reorganized the weekend agenda to carry out additional research,” says one of the NASA researchers, Ashwin R. Vasavada, quoted by the New York Times.

When Curiosity arrived on Mars in 2012, it searched for methane and did not find any, or at least only 1 part per billion in the atmosphere of the red planet. Then, in 2013, it detected a sudden peak, of up to 7 parts per 1,000 million that lasted at least a couple of months. However, the methane disappeared.

This week’s measurement, on the other hand, found 21 parts per 1 billion methane, which is three times the 2013 peak.

This week, NASA also published an image, taken by its ‘rover’ Curiosity, which shows a white light of unknown origin on Mars. The black and white photograph was taken this June 16 by one of the two navigation cameras of the rover and then transmitted to Earth.

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It is not clear what is the white point that appears in the image, since you images taken almost immediately before and after do not show the mysterious light.

Nor is it the first time that an anomaly of this type was detected by the Curiosity, which began its mission on the red planet in August 2012. In April 2014, the ‘rover’ also observed a mysterious white spot. At that time, the scientists explained that it could be the flash caused by the reflection of the Sun on the surface of a Martian rock.

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Andrei Santov

Andrei, a sociologist by profession, born in Russia but currently located in UK, covers mostly European and Russia-related news for The Talking Democrat.