Methane On Mars Could Show Signs of Alien Life


A new report from the European Space Agency from the Gale Crater has revealed a plume of methane in June 2013. After Mars Express orbiter had found methane, NASA’s Curiosity rover has also detected levels of methane on Mars. The fun fact is that a newer European spacecraft – ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter – hadn’t found methane at all. But if methane is there, it could be a sign for alien life

However, Oleg Korablev from Space Institute in Russia says it is hard to accommodate with the data revealed. The new spacecraft has entered Mars orbit in 2017 and has more sensitive instruments than Mars Express. Of course, we may consider the mission a failure, but the first evidence found by Mars Express still stands.

How Is Methane On Mars Produced?

If methane is in the Martian air, it must be significant. The sunlight and chemical reactions are breaking up the molecules within a few centuries, but the methane detected was recently released. Here on Earth, methane gas is produced by living organisms or geothermal reactions.

What Is the Report Saying?

The report published in the Journal Nature by Dr. Korablev, says that the data gathered from April through August 2018 showed no sign of the gas. With orbiter’s sensitive instrument it could be detected more than 50 parts per trillion of methane on Mars. On the other hand, Curiosity is detecting methane at ten levels higher. From the 2013 study, Curiosity and Mars Express detected about 100 times as much methane as the Trace Gas Orbiter.

What Type of Methods Had Used Each Spacecraft?

The Trace Gas Orbiter is counting on the sunlight passing through the planet’s atmosphere, for more specific colors of light absorbed by the air that could provide fingerprints for methane- but it’s missing. On the other hand, the two spacecraft are situated in different places around the planet. The Orbiter made measurements over Gale Crater and at several miles above the surface, and Curiosity is measuring at the surface. An interesting fact though is that both spacecraft had observed methane in the same place and time in 2013.

Finally, after those data discovered and analyzed, scientists will wonder if it is indeed microbes that produce methane on Mars, and what’s going on with the appearance and disappearance of the gas. It could be a sign of alien life if the gas is indeed present on the Red Planet.


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