Tags: mars | methane | life
Image: Lack of Methane Indicates Mars Unlikely to Support Life

Lack of Methane Indicates Mars Unlikely to Support Life

Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 02:33 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Methane, which results from the decay of organic matter, wasn’t detected on Mars, suggesting the planet probably doesn’t support living microbes, according to new readings from the Curiosity rover.

The craft has identified no methane on its sensors, and the greatest amount of the gas that may exist in the atmosphere is about 1.3 parts per billion, about six times lower than previous estimates made by earth-bound telescopes and orbiting satellites, according to a paper released today in the journal Science.

Earth has about 1,800 parts per billion of methane in the atmosphere, said Chris Webster, a study author and the director of the microdevices lab at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The gas is mostly the result of the decay of organic matter, and a signal of biology. Higher readings of methane on Mars taken from Earth and orbiting satellites raised hopes that microbes might lie beneath the Martian surface, Webster said.

“There aren’t significant amounts of methane, so that paints a whole different picture,” Webster said. “We can say that there isn’t significant microbial activity.”

That doesn’t rule out the possibility that some microbes don’t produce methane, Webster said. The reading also doesn’t mean that life forms have never existed on Mars, he said.

“Curiosity established that it was a habitable world about a billion or less years ago, with water flowing and energy --the right ingredients for simple life forms,” Webster said.

Earlier Observations

Some previous readings found plumes of methane, which appear to have dispersed, with as much as 45 parts per billion, Webster said. Another report, from an orbiter, said that it detected 10 parts per billion, plus or minus 5. Some scientists have criticizing the methods used to make those readings.

“That’s in part because they’re very difficult observations,” Webster said. The sensor on Curiosity is more sensitive and doesn’t have to be read through Earth’s dense atmosphere, he said.

Though Curiosity is measuring in only one place, the atmosphere on Mars mixes and turns over every few months, Webster said. So if there were a plume somewhere, it would mix to form the background atmosphere being analyzed by Curiosity.

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Study Traces Dinosaur Evolution into Early Birds

Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 14:36 PM

Scientists have mapped how a group of fearsome, massive dinosaurs evolved and shrank to the likes of robins and hummingb . . .

Study Blames Lost Calves on Panthers

Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 07:35 AM

Since Florida's frontier days when cattlemen drove their herds through the state's vast fields and forests, ranchers and . . .

Scientists: Earth Narrowly Escaped Devastating 2012 Solar Storm

Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 19:07 PM

A powerful solar storm's near-miss with Earth two years ago could have wreaked massive havoc, but businesses and governm . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved