Science

Potential source of methane on Mars

Potential source of methane on Mars”

A European spacecraft has confirmed a report of methane being released from the surface of Mars. The trouble with methane, however, is that it doesn't last long in the atmosphere.

According to the researchers, transient events in a fault region near the Gale Crater are the most likely place of methane release.

Researchers have devoted considerable attention and resources to the search of methane on Mars, with the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos even deploying a special Trace Gas Orbiter to the planet recently to seek out the compound, along with water vapor, and to find clues about what led to their formation.

The exact source of the methane remains to be identified in future missions - as does the existence of life on Mars. Algorithms compared the various surface features to environs on Earth that are known to yield methane emissions.

'Although parts per billion in general means a relatively small amount, it is quite remarkable for Mars- our measurement corresponds to an average of about 46 tonnes of methane that was present in the area of 49,000 square kilometres observed from our orbit'.

Scientists have detected methane on Mars, a good indicator for potential microbial life. The instrument spotted methane only once, on the same day Curiosity detected the sudden spike in the gas.

Giuranna said, 'In general we did not detect any methane, aside from one definite detection of about 15 parts per billion by volume of methane in the atmosphere, which turned out to be a day after Curiosity reported a spike of about six parts per billion.

Europe's Mars Express probe measured 15.5 parts per billion in the atmosphere above the Gale Crater on June 16, 2013.

The initial discovery of the methane emission by the Curiosity rover in June 2013 had been questioned by some experts.

The scientists used the orbiter's planetary fourier spectrometer (PFS) to look for methane in and around Gale crater from December 2012 to July 2014.

This kind of thing happens on Earth, typically along tectonic faults and at natural gas deposits.

Researchers indicate that they are not afraid of extreme temperature changes and intense radiation, which the organisms use as a source of energy.

In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, the scientists present their theory: that the "geological faults" in the Aeolis Mensae region could have broken permafrost nearby and released methane that may have been trapped within it.

The ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which is created to make the most detailed inventory of the martian atmosphere yet, began its science observations in April 2018. "Let's just say it will make for an interesting discussion in the community as we seek to resolve the observations from existing and new measurements of methane on Mars".



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