It seems that the surface of Mars is spewing out a significant amount of gas, most likely derived from the activity of bacteria living on the surface of the Red Planet.
Measurements and signals were sent last Wednesday, and the "person" responsible for informing Earth scientists was the diligent Curiosity probe. It detects a large amount of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere, which is normally produced by living organisms on Earth.
According to local time, the data arrived on Earth on Thursday and by Friday, scientists had confirmed the accuracy of the signal, and enthusiastically discussed the possibility of life on Mars. . However, NASA has not officially announced what they found.
"Because this result was so unexpected, we rearranged the weekends to do more tests", Ashwin R. Vasavada, scientist who belongs to the Mars mission project, writes in an email. The New York Times news site also received the email, and was the first to post the news.
The ground executive board gave Curiosity new instructions, telling the robot what to do in subsequent measurements, speeding up previous research plans. Expected, the results will come on Monday next American hour.
Throughout the history of human development, it is impossible to count the number of people looking up to the sky to ask: Are we lonely in the immense Universe? After a series of observations, we ask more specific questions: Can Mars support life?
In the 1970s, the Viking probe showed us a dry, lifeless red soil. Two decades later, planetary scientists found that Mars's surface was warmer than we thought, was wetter and had a higher life-sustaining capacity than 4 billion years ago. And now, if we can confirm the existence of life on the Red Planet, we will know that it is a living surface bacterium that already exists.
Talk more about methane and its importance: if methane gas is present in the air, solar radiation and chemical reactions will break the methane link over a period of several centuries. Therefore, all sources of methane appear will be new.
On Earth, we still know the possibility of methane discharging of bacteria living in an oxygen-deficient environment, such as deep underground cracks or digestive systems of living organisms. However, geological activity can also release methane gas.
There is also another possibility: the newly discovered methane gas dates back millions of years, leaving the surface through a newly emerging crack. Last Saturday afternoon, NASA confirmed the new discovery, but only called them "preliminary scientific results".
They need to analyze more data to confirm the result is correct.
The first time we discovered methane gas on Mars was a decade and a half ago, with Mars Express orbiter probe designed by the European Space Agency ESA with the help of a number of left telescopes. Land. However, the technology at the time was still "fledgling", the discovery of methane on Red Planet was a bit too much, making many scientists believe that it was just a mistake.
When Curiosity went to Mars in 2012, the scientists actively sought methane but failed. In 2013, a large amount of methane suddenly appeared and soon disappeared. This newly discovered methane amount is more dense than the 21 methane outbreaks in 2013.
Not too long ago, the Curiosity tool was remotely tweaked, allowing the probe to detect the smallest amount of methane. NASA discovered that the seasonal gas changes, and new results from old data analysis of Mars Express also confirmed Curiosity's discovery in 2013 was accurate.
But the gas tracking satellite, Trace Gas Orbiter, a new European orbital probe launched in 2016, failed to detect gas traces in the first studies last year.
The Gale meteorite area, where Curiosity is studying.
Marco Giuranna, a working scientist at the National Institute of Aerospace Physics in Italy, is also the head of Mars Express's methane measurement project, saying experts from all three projects – Curiosity, Mars Express and Trace Gas Orbiter – are in serious discussions.
Giuranna says Mars Express is flying through the Gale Hole area, the Curiosity site is still working, just on the day the Mars surface probe detects methane gas. Besides, the database also has further early research, including one-time observation with Trace Gas Orbiter.
"There is a lot of analytical data available"Professor Guiranna said. "There will soon be preliminary results next week".
By the way, more about the far-away plan: next year, there will be two more probes landing on the surface of Mars, one from NASA and one coming from a combination of Russia and Europe, which will carry tools to detect material that constitutes life.
Refer to the New York Times