No life on Mars? Nasa Curiosity struggles to find methane on the planet
Date published: 26th September 2013
Scientists expressed their disappointment on Thursday when Nasa's Mars Curiosity rover was unable to detect methane in the planet's atmosphere, a gas that on Earth is a strong indicator of life.
The finding does not bode well for the possibility that microbes capable of producing the gas could be living below the planet's surface, where conditions would be less harsh.
Earth based telescopes and satellites had observed "plumes" of methane gas in the martian atmosphere for the last decade. "Small but significant" volumes of methane were observed from Mars orbit showing localised patches.
Curiosity rover had been sent to the planet in the hope of detecting signs of the gas, which is considered a potential signifier of current or past biological activity.
But Curiosity's failure to identify any signs of the gas may now dent the optimistic belief held by scientists that life could exist on Mars. Although it lacks the technology to directly search for life, the car-sized rover breathed in Mars air and scanned it to look for signs of methane.
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