NASA’s Curiosity rover team found evidence of life on planet Mars!
On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, NASA scientists attending the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco announced the detection of organic compounds on Mars. The announcement represents the discovery of the missing “ingredient” that is necessary for the existence – past or present – of life on Mars!
NASA’s Curiosity rover team reported surprising spikes in methane gas, raising the possibility of microbial alien life on the red planet.
The rover has previously discovered water in the Mars soil, believed to be crucial to life. But if the existence of living, breathing microbes is confirmed, it will be the first evidence of life outside Earth.
“What is interesting is that these spikes of methane are coming and going. They are transient,” said Dr Paul Mahaffy at Nasa, reported the Telegraph.
Last year NASA reported that Gale contained the remains of an ancient freshwater lake where there may have been a hospitable environment for life in the distant past. The new discovery, reported in the journal Science, followed studies of gas samples by Curiosity’s Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TAS), an instrument that uses intense light to carry out chemical analysis.
It revealed a low background level of methane which spiked 10-fold over a period of just 60 Martian days. In four sequential measurements, Curiosity showed the methane level soaring from about 0.69 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) to 7.2 ppbv. The spikes occurred within 200 to 300 metres of each other and less than a kilometre from where the lower readings were detected. By the time Curiosity had travelled a further kilometre, the higher methane levels had disappeared.
Life is the chief producer of methane on Earth, but there are many non-biological processes that can also generate the gas.