Jun 25, 2019 07:32 AM EDT
NASA -- Curiosity, NASA's Martian rover, has recently sent a report recording the highest level of methane gas ever found on the surface of Mars. The reading was taken from the Gale Crater. It read 21 parts per billion, three times stronger than the previous reading which was recorded by Curiosity in 2013.
Planetary scientists keep a close look at the presence of methane on Mars. They believe that its presence will pave the way for possibly getting evidence that life exists on the red planet. On Earth, most of the methane gas present in the atmosphere is produced by living things. However, this type of gas may also be produced by geological interactions particularly the chemical reaction among rocks.
Over the past 16 years, telescopes and spacecrafts have spotted the presence of methane on Mars, but they sadly do not come in a predictable pattern. These reports of the methane on Mars has made it even more mysterious for those who study planets and space. It has deepened the desire to know the origins of this gas.
Curiosity has provided measurements of the methane gas several times since it has made its landing on the Gale Crater in 2012. Most of the time, the levels of methane gas were low. Oftentimes, in the measurements of parts per trillion, the rise and fall of the methane gas has been a constant reminder of the possible changes in the Martian Weather conditions.
However, the latest measurements that Curiosity sent were excitingly huge, according to Oleg korablev, a physicist assigned at the Space Research Institute in New Mexico. He is in-charge of one of the methane-sniffing instruments of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the European-Russian Space Agency. Since its launch in 2016, it has not so far spotted any of the methane gas in the planet. It has been a rather elusive gas for this TGO.
One explanation that scientists have is that it could be that methane as a gas is destroyed as it continues to move up. This is according to Michael Mumma, a planetary scientist of NASA. orbiting spacecrafts like that of the TGO are best in measuring methane many kilometers from above the surface.
NASA has decided to extend the stay of Curiosity in the planet. At the current location in Mars, is has come across the path called Teal Ridge. The astronauts and other specialists of the agency will be working on further the methane experiment. The studies have been conducted but the results have yet to be released.
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