Scientists found fungi on Mars

Mindy Sparks
April 4, 2019

Researchers have devoted considerable attention and resources to the search of methane on Mars, with the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos even deploying a special Trace Gas Orbiter to the planet recently to seek out the compound, along with water vapor, and to find clues about what led to their formation.

The presence of methane on the Red Planet is exciting due to it possibly being a biosignature, though it can also be produced by geological activity.

There was a big stir when reports emerged that they detected methane on Mars.

On June 16, 2013, the Curiosity rover recorded a methane concentration of 5.78 parts per billion (ppb) in the Gale creator, while the Mars Express instrument recorded 15.5 ppb in the atmosphere above the crater, scientists said in the study.

After reviewing the ESA's data, scientists took a closer look at what might be causing the methane spike for just that one day.

In a new study published in Nature Geoscience, researchers appear to have found the source of methane on Mars.

"Although parts per billion in general means a relatively small amount, it is quite remarkable for Mars - our measurement corresponds to an average of about 46 tonnes of methane that was present in the area of 49,000 square kilometres observed from our orbit".

But there are geological processes that can produce methane, and don't require biology.

It is the first time scientists have identified a potential source of methane on Mars, though the scientific community is still divided on whether the gas is really produced on the planet at all.

How the methane escaped from frozen lakes beneath the surface of Mars. The area was split into grid squares to assess the likelihood of methane sources.

"In general we did not detect any methane, aside from one definite detection of about 15 parts per billion by volume of methane in the atmosphere, which turned out to be a day after Curiosity reported a spike of about six parts per billion", says Marco Giuranna, principal investigator for the PFS. On Mars, episodic gas expulsions could also be created during a meteorite impact, liberating gas trapped below the surface. Both processes release the gas on Earth. Current thinking is that a break in the Martian permafrost allowed for a significant release of methane gas. Long periods of time have passed without any methane being detected in the atmosphere at all. Something similar may be happening on Mars, in this case, along the faults of the Aeolis Mensae region. When the ice melts, it could then release the ancient methane into the atmosphere.

"Remarkably, we saw that the atmospheric simulation and geological assessment, performed independently of each other, suggested the same region of provenance of the methane, which is situated about 500 km east of Gale", said Marco Giuranna from the varsity.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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