NASA has confirmed that the Curiosity rover, the NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, recently detected the largest amount of methane ever measured during the mission. Curiosity’s methane reading came to 21 parts per billion units by volume. It is thrice the amount it sniffed out during a surge in 2013.
During a follow-up test later, though, scientists found that the methane levels around the rover already dropped sharply. Curiosity detected normal methane levels, that is 1 part per billion by volume, following the sudden elevation. It suggested that the abnormally high values came from transient methane plumes.
The scientists plan to gather more information through Curiosity and from other missions to gain a deeper understanding of the plumes. The scientist will be able to understand whether the presence of methane on the red planet truly is a sign of life only if they find where the plumes are coming from.
1. Methane is a gas formed by both geological and biological processes.
2. It is the main constituent of natural gas. It is a group-14 hydride and the simplest alkane with the chemical formula CH4.
3. The methane concentration in earth atmospheric has increased by about 150% since 1750.
4. Methane accounts for 20% of the total radiative forcing from all of the long-lived and globally mixed greenhouse gases.