Blog dedicated to the world of space. News on space discoveries, missions, planets

What is the source of methane on Mars?

What is the source of methane on Mars?

By daniele

The mystery of methane gas on Mars may finally be solved. Scientists have confirmed the presence of a gas that indicates life on the Red Planet and where it may have come from. In the 15 years since a European spacecraft reported traces of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere, controversy has persisted over the accuracy of measurements indicating methane gas.

The fact that methane gas disappears relatively quickly on Earth, at around 12 years, and that the Martian atmosphere is difficult to observe has led many scientists to question previous studies that relied on a single data set.

Now, an international team of experts has independently discovered evidence of methane on our neighbor’s planet by comparing observations from two spacecraft taken one day apart in 2013.

They also conducted two parallel experiments and found that the most likely source of methane on Mars is an ice sheet east of Gale Crater, long thought to be a dried-up lake. This is very exciting and almost unexpected,” Marco Giuranna of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Rome told AFP.

Two completely independent surveys pointed to the same general area as the most likely source of methane.”

The European probe Mars Express measured 15.5 ppm in the atmosphere over Gale Crater on 6, 16, 2013. The existence of methane in the vicinity was confirmed by readings taken by NASA’s Curiosity spacecraft 24 hours earlier.

Using this data, Juranna and his team divided the area surrounding the crater into a 250 x 250 square kilometer grid.

Another team examined images of the Earth’s surface to determine the topographic features associated with methane emissions on the planet.

Most likely, the team believes, is a sheet of frozen methane beneath the bedrock, which periodically releases the gas into the atmosphere.

Joanna said that while methane is a sign of life on Earth, its presence on Mars is not necessarily parallel to the Red Planet.

“Methane is significant because it could be a needle of microbial life,” he said.” However, since methane can be produced by inanimate processes, life is not necessary to explain these detections.”

“While not a direct biosignature of life, methane can enhance the habitability of the Martian environment because certain microbes can use methane as a source of carbon and energy.” He adds.