NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Yep, Curiosity definitely found methane on Mars

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Last year it was reported that NASA's Curiosity rover had detected methane near Mars' Gale Crater, and now this finding has been confirmed by the Mars Express spacecraft. Methane detected in Mars' atmosphere has stirred hot debate about whether it might be a sign of life on the Red Planet, but there are still doubts about methane being present at all. In June 2018 Curiosity detected a spike of methane, and the following day Mars Express also detected methane - which it hadn't done on previous orbits - providing an independent confirmation of Curiosity's report.

Journal/conference: Nature Geoscience

DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0331-9

Organisation/s: Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy

Funder: Italian Space Agency.

Media Release

From: Springer Nature

Independent confirmation of methane detection on Mars

The detection of methane near Gale Crater on Mars by the Mars Express spacecraft on 16 June 2013, is reported in Nature Geoscience this week. This finding provides independent confirmation of debated measurements obtained by the Curiosity rover one day earlier.

Methane was discovered in the Martian atmosphere more than a decade ago, and was thought to have been produced biologically by microorganisms or by abiotic geochemical reactions. However, the potential mechanisms for its generation as well as the reliability of existing detections have been the subject of vigorous debate.

Marco Giuranna and colleagues present spacecraft-based spectrometer observations of methane in the Martian atmosphere near Gale Crater, which constitute independent confirmation of the measurements from Curiosity. An investigation of the potential source of the methane, using numerical modelling and geological analysis, suggests that transient events in a region of faults near Gale Crater are likely to have released the detected methane into the Martian atmosphere. The identification of this location may provide focus for future investigations into the origin of methane on Mars.

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