Friday, 30 Jul 2021

‘Alien burp’ may have been detected by Mars Curiosity rover on red planet

An 'alien burp' may have been detected by NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars.

Scientists think they may have pinpointed the mysterious source of methane, a gas often produced by microbes, and it could have potential implications for the possibility of life on the red planet.

Since Curiosity landed in Gale crater in 2012, it has been measuring the amount of methane in the vicinity. It has noticed spikes in the methane level on six occasions.

Researchers may now have traced the burps to their origin.

They were able to pinpoint where the source is most likely to be be, with one possibility being just a few dozen miles away from the rover.

Experts from the California Institute of Technology wrote in their research paper: "(The findings) point to an active emission region to the west and the southwest of the Curiosity rover on the northwestern crater floor.

"This may invoke a coincidence that we selected a landing site for Curiosity that is located next to an active methane emission site."

This is said to be prospect for scientists, as almost all of the methane in Earth's atmosphere has biological origins, according to the researchers.

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The findings could be a key signpost for finding life on Mars, which has long been a fascination for researchers.

If correct, they would be the most accurate localisation of a methane source ever found on the red planet.

Methane on Mars is expected to have a detectable lifespan of no more than 300 years or so, and its continued presence "indicates that something is producing methane today," according to Dr John Moore of York University in Toronto, Canada.

The findings of the study are yet to be peer-reviewed.

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