Methane detected on Mars greened hope for extraterrestrial life

We have already read the climate change news of methane gas, which has 28 times the CO2 potential of global warming. It is a waste produced by microorganisms living in some oxygen-free endpoints of the earth, such as shallow wet cavities formed by melting the surface of Alaska’s ice and soil mixture, or in the volcanic mouths of the ocean floor. These methanogens (ie methane-producing bacteria), which use hydrogen and carbon dioxide for respiration and produce methane as waste, are also one of hundreds of bacteria living in our gastrointestinal tract. This is precisely where the relationship between methane and global warming comes from. In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, the fact that methane in the atmosphere has risen 50% above the pre-industrial level is attributed, at least in part (to 20%), to these organisms in ruminants such as cattle and sheep. In other words, a large part of the earth’s methane originates from all sorts of bacteria that have found their habitat in the absence of oxygen. The world is okay, but what about the source of the methane on Mars?

The Mars methane, which for the first time had been aware of the existence of Mauna Kea Observatory telescopes in Hawaii 10 years ago, but which was not considered as a data error at that time, became an undeniable fact. First announced on June 22 through the New York Times, the following day (June 23), NASA’s official site released according to the NASA aracıs surface exploration tool Curiosity, last Wednesday, measurements of the high levels of methane detected in the atmosphere of the red planet. Curiosity, which descended to Gale Crater in August 2012, which was found to be an old lake bed in previous studies, made a similar measurement of the presence of methane in 2013, corresponding to 7ppb, ie 7 out of every 1 billion particles in the atmosphere. he had detected a sudden concentration. This last measurement is three times the amount in 2013: 21 ppb, the highest level ever determined.

In fact, Curiosity is not the only tool that scans the surface of Mars in search of life. Trace Gas Orbiter, of European and Russian origin, which was sent in 2016 but failed to reach any conclusions in the initial detection; Mars Express, one of the satellites of the European Space Agency, which had previously been sent to Mars orbit from Curiosity; and Mars Global Surveyor from NASA; all of them staring at the surface of Mars, their answer to questions about the presence of methane, this mysterious gas in the atmosphere of Mars will be due to seasonal fluctuations, does not exactly match. As a matter of fact, the 7ppb methane discovered by Curiosity in 2013 had suddenly disappeared for several months. When the current knowledge of the Mars atmosphere is combined with photochemical and general circulation patterns, the methane must be shattered by sunlight and chemical reactions after 300 years of homogeneous distribution in the atmosphere. Therefore, the existence of this gas today becomes the cause of more complex questions rather than answering questions about the existence of life on Mars. And the question we are asking above is one of them: What is the source of methane in the atmosphere of Mars?

Although abiotic, ie non-viable, geological methane production mechanisms are among the possibilities, the living forms that exist on Mars are the most flamboyant and flamboyant answers to this question. In particular, given the curiosity’s previously identified boron and silicon minarets in Gale Crater’s main study area; because, as the researchers point out, the presence of a source of water drawn underground after the evaporation of the mass of liquid on Gale points to the existence. Researchers think life may well have emerged here. Moreover, this smart car-sized machine, climbing the hills in Gale, examining the composition of the rocks, trying to understand how old lakes and groundwaters have changed over billions of years, has a high resolution to detect small amounts of molecules thanks to its laser-based spectroscopy. So the margin of error is very low. After all, we don’t know the source of the methane yet. But the answer to this question is so appetizing that two surface surveys, one NASA and another Euro-Russian co-production, will be sent to Curiosity next year. Essentially, space agencies will not stop until they solve the secret of life on Mars.

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