NASA recorded an increased presence of methane on Mars, providing foundational evidence that there could be life on Mars today, according to the New York Times.
The Curiosity rover recorded the measure earlier in the week. Methane is a gas produced as the waste product of living organisms. They are known to thrive in areas lacking oxygen. However, it is also acknowledge that geothermal reactions unrelated to biological life can also produce methane. Follow-up measurements are being organized to learn more.
Methane has been dedicated on Mars before, but never in this high amount. 15 years ago, Mars first recorded the presence of methane on Mars. Afterwards, Curiosity measured a spike in 2013 of up to 7 parts per billion that lasted for 2 months. This week’s measurement was three times larger than the 2013 spike at 21 parts per billion.
Methane usually dissipates within a few centuries, meaning that its production on Mars is relatively recent. Scientists have speculated that living microbes could be deep beneath Mars’ surface.
However, scientists are approaching the new data with caution and only confirming the increased presence of methane.
“A lot of data to be processed. I’ll have some preliminary results by next week,” said Dr. Marco Giuranna, a scientist at the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy.
Further information in the coming weeks should shed light as to the stronger implications of this methane presence and its tie to life on Mars.