NASA’s Curiosity rover has sent back data showing that the Mars environment does not contain methane gas. Previous data had shown that there was methane gas on Mars so this latest report has left scientists puzzled. Curiosity has been on a mission to find traces of methane in the atmosphere because methane gas is an indicator of potential life.
“This important result will help direct our efforts to examine the possibility of life on Mars,” said Michael Meyer, NASA’s lead scientist for Mars exploration. “It reduces the probability of current methane-producing Martian microbes, but this addresses only one type of microbial metabolism. As we know, there are many types of terrestrial microbes that don’t generate methane.”
The rover took six samples from October 2012 through June 2012 and found no traces of methane gas. Scientists are guestimating the amount of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere is around 1.3 parts per billion which is one-sixth the previous estimate.
“It would have been exciting to find methane, but we have high confidence in our measurements, and the progress in expanding knowledge is what’s really important,” said the report’s lead author, Chris Webster of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “We measured repeatedly from Martian spring to late summer, but with no detection of methane.”
For more on this story check out the official NASA press release
And for more on the Curiosity mission hit these links
Photo Credit: ASKSEB