Scientists at Marse found a life-related source of gas


The mystery of the methane traces recorded on Mars may have been partially resolved – scientists confirmed on Monday that the Red Planet actually contains these vital activities, as well as the presumption of its source.

15 years ago, a European probe sent information showing that there was a trace of methane in Mars' atmosphere. Since then, there has been no dispute if measurements showing there is gas, some living organisms on Earth, especially microbes, were accurate enough.

Because methane gas is rapidly dispersed (on Earth for about 12 years) and constant monitoring of the Mars atmosphere is difficult, many scientists have questioned previous studies based on a single set of data.

The international team of experts has now compared data from two spacecraft collected in 2013 with just one day difference in order to find independent evidence that methane is present in the atmosphere of a neighboring planet.

In addition, after two parallel experiments, they found that the most likely source of methane on Mars is the ice cap east of the Gulf of Crater, which has long been considered a dry lake.

"This is very worrying and largely unexpected," said Marco Giuranna, an AFP official, an Italian national astrophysics institute based in Rome.

"Two completely independent lines of research showed the same area of ​​probable source of methane," he added.

The European Mars Express Probe On June 16, 2013, the methane concentration measured above the Geilo crater was 15.5 parts of one billion parts of this material. These measurements confirmed data previously received from NASA's Curiosity Passenger.

Using this data, Giuranna and his collaborators divided the map of the crater area into squares 250 kilometers long.



One of the studies used a computational model for gas propagation and one million potential scenarios were verified for each square.

Another group of researchers analyzed the surface of the planet, trying to detect derivatives similar to those of the Earth related to the release of methane.

A sign of life

The most likely source of this material is the underground reservoir of rocky methane, which, scientists say, occasionally spreads into the gas escaping into the atmosphere.

Giuranna pointed out that, on Earth, methane is a source of life, but its presence on Mars is not necessarily a proof of any vital activity on this planet.

"Methane is important because it can be a sign of the life of microorganisms," the researcher explained. "However, there is no need to have life to explain these findings, because methane can be formed during abiotic processes."

"Although methane is not a direct biological sign of life, it can increase the resilience of Mars' habitats, as microorganisms can use methane as a source of carbon and energy," he added.

Although there is no liquid water on the surface of Mars, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported in February that its probes sent more material showing the dry river beds. Thus, the Red Planet could have been suitable for organisms at least simple.

According to Giuranna, further research is needed to determine the size of the presumed methane ice deposit near the Geilo crater.

If this pool were large, methane resources could be used for the long-term presence of people on Mars as a potential source of fuel for the industry and return flights from the Red Planet to Earth.


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