Methane's strange puzzle is on Mars. Earlier, NASA's curiosity rover felt somewhat strange: it detected the level of methane fluctuation in the Martian atmosphere, whether an orbit satellites, the European Space Agency (ISA) trace gas orbiter found no evidence of Methane using its highly sensitive discovery level. Then, the ISA's Mars Express Missions used a new discovery method to find that Methane was present in certain locations for only a short period of time.
Now, Curiosity has detected the highest level of methane in 21 parts in 21 parts by volume using its sampling analysis of Mars (SAM) tunable laser spectrometer.
Methane levels are important because gas can be produced by microbes. It is theorized that life may exist below the Martin surface which produces gas, which then reaches the surface surface. However, methane can also be produced by geographical effects of rocks and water interactions, and can also escape to the surface. Unfortunately, Curiosity does not have any way of saying that the methane it originates from is a biological or geological process.
In the follow-up experiment, Curiosity scientists have found that methane levels have dropped dramatically since the amount of which is less than one billion units by volume. This level is similar to the background layers that curiosity is commonly seen, suggesting that the previous spike of methane is only temporary. It supports the idea of migrated methane plumes that occasionally and apparently recycle randomly, in addition to the seasonal variations of previously recorded methane levels.
"The secret of methane continues," said Ashvin Vasavada, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Curiosity Project project said in a statement. "We are always more motivated to measure our brains together to determine how methane behaves in the mining environment."
The next step is for the researchers to collaborate with the trace gas orbiter team to collect data for both surface and orbit of Mars for Curiosity. This can help to determine the methane dust source and determine how long the gas remains in the atmosphere.