A study confirms the presence of methane on Mars



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In the presence of methane at the Martian atmosphere was confirmed by a new analyze of Mars Express data, announced Monday, April 1, 2019, researchers who pointed out that gas could be an indicator of life microorganic or derive from geological processes.

The European probe Mars Express, in orbit around the planet since the end of 2003, has already detected remains of methane in its atmosphere in 2004, thanks to its infrared spectrometer PFS. But, for technical reasons, these results were not totally convincing.

In June 2018, the NASA On the other hand, it announced that its mobile robot Curiosity detected methane in the Martian atmosphere on June 15, 2013 near the Gale crater. These results "in situ"However, they raised doubts, since some indicated that this methane could come from the robot itself," he recalled. Marco Giuranna, of the Italian Institute of Astrophysics In Rome.

However, the international team led by this Italian researcher has managed to improve the quality of the data collected by the infrared spectrometer of Mars Express, a mission of the European Space Agency (ESA).

"We have developed a new way of selecting, treating and recover data"of the spectrometer, explains Marco Giuranna." This greatly reduces the uncertainties surrounding PFS measures, "he adds.

Soon after Curiosity landing in 2012 in the impact crater Galley"I decided to do a long-term surveillance of the Martian atmosphere" in that place, explains the researcher, whose study was published in Nature Geoscience.

On June 16, 2013, one day after Curiosity, the Mars Express spectrometer recorded peak emission of methane above the crater.

These results constitute an "independent confirmation of measures of curiosity," the study notes.

Finding methane (CH4) on Mars is very important to planets because "it could be an indicator of a microbial life "The presence of this gas may be the result of geochemical reactions, not related to life.

In addition, Marco Giuranna's team believes it has been able to locate the source of this methane emission in a fault region east of crater Galley

For this, the scientists conducted two separate studies, one based on digital modeling and another from a geological analysis of the site. The results of both studies converged on the same area. "It's very exciting and very unexpected," says the Italian researcher enthusiastically.

"We identify tectonic faults which may extend under a region covered by a thin layer of ice … It is possible that the ice will retain methane under the surface and release it episodically when the flaws break, "added Giuseppe Ethiopian. National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology of Rome.

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