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Is Mars Alive? Curiosity Uncovers Organics and Methane in Gale Crater

17 Dec 2014, 22:44 UTC
Is Mars Alive? Curiosity Uncovers Organics and Methane in Gale Crater
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While it’s not quite the “smoking gun” for evidence of life on Mars, the recent announcement of a detection of spiking methane levels by NASA’s Curiosity rover has certainly caught everyone’s attention – especially since the activity of microbes is one possible source for the presence of the compound, which has already been detected by […]

Mosaic of Curiosity made from images acquired with its turret-mounted MAHLI camera. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/J. Major)
While it’s not quite the “smoking gun” for evidence of life on Mars, the recent announcement of a detection of spiking methane levels by NASA’s Curiosity rover has certainly caught everyone’s attention – especially since the activity of microbes is one possible source for the presence of the compound, which has already been detected by spacecraft in orbit around Mars.
“This temporary increase in methane – sharply up and then back down – tells us there must be some relatively localized source,” said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. “There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock.”
Still, biological in origin or not, these findings are yet another milestone for the MSL mission.

“We ...

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