Curiosity, the rover sent to Mars by NASA, detected underground traces of methane. The discovery of this natural gas that could potentially be a sign of life on the red planet and people are losing their minds!
Why could methane be a sign of life?
On our planet, microbes are primarily responsible for the presence of methane. It could be, then, that microbes are hiding under Mars’s surface. Though the presence of life on the red planet could well be a possibility, there are also other explanations for why methane is present.
The presence of methane
According to NASA, methane can also be created by a chemicalreaction between water and rock. Moreover, there is less methane on Mars than on Earth—only 21 ppb (parts per billion) as opposed to 1,860 ppb on Earth.
NASA also declared that the concentration of methane on Mars can fluctuate depending on season, lowering in winter and increasing in summer. Scientists think that this increase is due to the presence of a layer of ice under the planet’s surface. Summer heat melts this ice, releasing methane bubbles into the Martian atmosphere.
NASA hopes to uncover the mystery of the presence of methane on Mars with help from the Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been orbiting the red planet for over a year. For now, NASA cannot determine with certainty if the methane has a biological or geological source.
Check out the video to find out more!