NASA Curiosity Rover Detects Large Amount of Methane on Mars, Hinting at Possibility of Life

In a NASA photo, a self-portrait taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover at the Gale Crater, at the center of which stands Mount Sharp, a 3.4-mile-high mound, June 15, 2018. Mars, it appears, is belching a large amount of a gas that could be a sign of microbes living on the planet today. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via The New York Times) — FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY

NASA’s Curiosity rover detected an unusually high amount of methane—a gas that is usually produced by living things—on Mars in a measurement conducted on Wednesday. The results came back to Earth on Thursday, and by Friday scientists were already planning a follow-up experiment over the weekend, The New York Times reports. “Given this surprising result, we’ve reorganized the weekend to run a follow-up experiment,” Ashwin R. Vasavada, the mission’s project scientist, was quoted as saying in an email to the science team. NASA has called the observation an “early science result” and stressed that further testing would be necessary. When Curiosity arrived on Mars in 2012, it detected very little methane in the atmosphere, though there was a sudden spike the next year. The measurement taken this week found three times as much methane as in 2013. The results of the follow-up experiment are expected to come back to Earth Monday.


SOURCE: The Daily Beast – Anna Kaplan