NASA’s Curiosity rover detects the presence of a methane gas source – A group of scientists have discovered the mysterious location of the source of methane, the gas most commonly produced by microbes in the world Mars.

Methane bubbles detected Curiosity six times since the rover landed in the Gale Mars crater in 2012.

However, scientists could not find the source. Now, with a new analysis, researchers may have traced the methane bubble to its origin.

To calculate the unknown source of methane, researchers at the California Institute of Technology, modeled the particle methane gas by dividing it into separate packages.

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Taking into account wind speed and direction at the time of their detection, the team tracked the presence of methane to the point where it was emitted.

By doing this for all the different detection spikes, they were able to triangulate the area where the methane source is most likely to be.

Illustrations of methane gas. [Shutterstock]

“[Temuan] Curiosity’s rover points to an active emission region to the west and southwest of the crater,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“It may be a coincidence that we chose a landing site for Curiosity that lies next to an active site of methane emission,” he added.

This discovery is of great interest to scientists, because almost all methane in Earth’s atmosphere has a biological origin.

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If methane is produced non-biologically, it could indicate geological activity closely related to the presence of water, which is an essential ingredient for past or present life.

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Curiosity detects plumes of methane through an instrument called the Tunable Laser Spectrometer.

So it is able to detect trace amounts of gas less than half a part per billion (ppb) or about a pinch of salt dropped into the sea.

The methane spike that led the team to a potential source was recorded at around 10 ppb.

Previous attempts to cross-check Curiosity’s methane spike with atmospheric methane levels detected by the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) have failed.

This could mean that there is methane in the Martian atmosphere. Although we still don’t know if methane comes from tiny life forms.

Reported page Livescience, Friday (16/7/2021), scientists’ next job is to find out what it is.

Planet Mars. [NASA]
Planet Mars. [NASA]

The researchers published their findings on June 3 on a preprint server Research Square, so their research has not been peer reviewed.


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