The discovery of methane on Mars opens up an enigmatic debate about the possibility of life on the planet - La Prensa de Monclova

This gas, located near Gale crater, is formed in biological processes that serve, at least on Earth, as an indicator of life.

Nearly twenty years ago, it was Mars Express . probe Detection of concentrations methane gas On the Atmosphere From Marsbut since then, the observations made from the atmosphere and from the surface of the Red Planet have not ceased to contradict each other.

Thus, in recent years, curiosity rover From NASAwhich reached Mars in 2012, detected this gas repeatedly (at background level and in sudden increases), while the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) (this is) No trace of methane was found.

The controversy over the presence of methane on Mars is a topic of great debate in the scientific community because, at least in Earththis gas is formed in biological or geological processes, which is evidence of life.

In this context, numerical simulations presented in two studies led by Daniel Vedez-Moreras, a researcher at the Spanish CAB Astrobiology Center (CSIC-INTA), indicate for the first time that the methane spike and background measurements of this gas recorded by Curiosity come from local emissions near From the rover in the area Gale Crater.

These results, published in the scientific journals “Progress in Earth and Planetary Science” and “Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets,” fit in with the Curiosity measurements and with the ExoMars TGO measurements.

In addition, the results are also consistent with the conclusions of a previous study published in “Geophysical Research Letters” by Curiosity’s science team, which suggested that methane could be emitted from the first layers of the Earth. Organize (a layer of unconsolidated material such as rock fragments and mineral grains, resting on hard rock), or travels rapidly to the surface from deep reservoirs through fractures in the earth.

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The results presented in these studies not only reconcile Curiosity’s and ExoMars TGO observations, but also open up the possibility for the rover to explore the hypothetically released region of methane, thereby verifying its potential source.

The modeling study also suggests two unlikely or problematic scenarios: that the Martian atmosphere has a powerful and unknown mechanism for methane destruction (capable of destroying it at hitherto unknown rates), or that methane emissions are extremely rare. next to one of them.

To find out, new data from the rover and orbiter vehicles will be needed to understand the processes involved in Martian methane.

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