The study of the surface of Mars began in the 60s of the last century, and scientists later set out to find traces of life on the Red Planet. Most of the conjectures until recently were presented by conspiracy theories – but judging by the new NASA report, the researchers had a much more realistic clue.
According to NASA Aerospace Agency, the Curiosity rover managed to register an “unexpectedly high” level of methane content in the Martian atmosphere: about 21 parts per billion units by volume. The gas concentration turned out to be three times higher than with similar measurements made in 2013 — given that under terrestrial conditions it is released mainly by living organisms, scientists do not exclude the presence of microbial life under the surface of the Red Planet. However, this theory still needs confirmation – according to the researchers, geological processes, including those that took place in the distant past, can also be a source of a “leak”.
“According to current measurements, we cannot confirm the biological or geological nature of methane, and even say, is it ancient gas or modern,” said Paul Mahaffi, the principal researcher of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) program.
Given that gas disintegrates relatively quickly under the influence of sunlight and during chemical reactions, scientists believe that Mars could have favorable conditions for life during its "youth" about 4 billion years ago. According to one of the theories, microorganisms could migrate into the bowels of the planet after it lost most of its atmosphere. It is expected that the new Mars rover of NASA and the European Space Agency, which will fly to Mars in 2020, will help to more accurately determine the "methane cycle" of Mars.