Curiosity detects natural molecules in Martian environment and soil

Curiosity detects organic molecules in Martian atmosphere and soil

NASA’s Curiosity rover is nonetheless going robust on the purple planet, observing the environment and analyzing soil samples for the sake of future missions. As an example, the company has revealed that the rover has sniffed out sudden methane spikes within the environment someday in late 2013 and early 2014, coming from someplace north of the rover’s location within the Gale crater. The rover’s Pattern Evaluation at Mars (SAM) lab recurrently analyzes the air on the planet and has discovered methane ranges to be sometimes decrease than scientists anticipate. Throughout these sudden spikes, nevertheless, these ranges are ten occasions greater than normal.

NASA believes that methane throughout these occasions erupt from an underground supply once in a while, which suggests some course of or response is perhaps happening beneath the Martian floor. On Earth, methane is essentially produced by human actions, the trash we dump in landfills, in addition to animal and human waste. Whereas it is attainable that microbes that launch methane waste live on the planet, that does not mechanically imply there’s life on Mars, and even that it supported life way back. “There are various attainable sources, organic or non-organic,” says Curiosity science workforce member Sushil Atreya, “similar to interplay of water and rock.”

Because the Sarcastic Rover account posted on Twitter:

Martian Methane is NOT a canary within the coal mine of life. However like all lifeless hen, it is a good signal one thing is perhaps value a better look.

– SarcasticRover (@SarcasticRover) December sixteen, 2014

There’s proof suggesting that the Gale crater was a lake for hundreds of thousands of years earlier than it dried up, and the rover has lately found that every cubic foot of soil within the crater include two pints of water. So, as Atreya says, the supply could possibly be non-organic. Methane, as you may know, can be used as gasoline. If we will discover a method to harness the fuel on Mars, future manned explorations may be capable of use it to energy their gear, permitting them to remain longer on the purple planet.

Along with sniffing out methane, Curiosity has additionally discovered chlorine-containing natural molecules within the soil samples it drilled from the Gale crater. NASA says that is Curiosity’s “first definitive detection of natural molecules at Mars,” as a result of whereas it has detected comparable molecules prior to now, that is the primary time the bottom crew made positive they got here from the planet and weren’t created by SAM’s devices throughout testing. In truth, the rover drilled the pattern again in Might 2013, however NASA’s solely saying this now, because the scientists spent over a yr replicating SAM’s checks and analyzing the outcomes.

[Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS]

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