The presence of methane in Mars Scientists are fascinated by some of the devices that you discover and some that you don’t. The solution will be at the time the measurements are taken, according to a study published today by Astornomy and Astrophysics.
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The research, co-authored by Jorge Bla-Garcia, of the Spanish Astrobiology Center (CAB CSIC-INTA), focuses on methane measurements at Gale Crater, where the rover is operating. Curiosity of US space agency NASA.
Although the study partially solves the mystery, it does not fully clarify it, as it remains to be understood why the methane that should have accumulated in the atmosphere cannot be measured in sufficient quantities to be detected from space.
The Curiosity rover, which arrived at Mars in 2012, has repeatedly detected methane on the surface of Gale crater, but the ExoMars mission’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) satellite has repeatedly detected methane. European Space Agency (European Space Agency), which has been operating since 2016, has not found any methane in the Martian atmosphere.
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Both devices have great accuracy in their measurements. Therefore, scientists were surprised when they found out that the data of one and the other did not match, as NASA explains on its website.
In search of an explanation, the Curiosity team considered it was the rover that produced these emissions, for example by fracturing rocks or by smashing wheels, although it did not.
Finally, the team behind the Curiosity instrument responsible for analyzing samples on Mars considered the hypothesis that the discrepancy between the methane measurements was due to the time of day they were taken.
Because it requires a great deal of power, the Mars rover’s TLS laser spectrometer works, especially at night, when no other instruments do. Mars’ atmosphere is quiet at night, so methane seeps from the ground and accumulates near the surface, where a rover can detect it.
However, TGO needs sunlight to locate methane five kilometers above the surface, but this gas near the surface at night mixes with the atmosphere during the day, diluting it to undetectable levels.
Scientists took measurements using TLS throughout the Martian day, alternating between a nighttime measurement and two daytime measurements, and those made during the day confirmed that methane had dropped to zero.
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Although the study indicates that methane concentrations rise and fall throughout the day on the surface of Gale Crater, scientists haven’t fully solved the mystery yet.
Methane is a stable molecule that is expected to persist on the planet for 300 years before disappearing as a result of solar radiation. If this gas is constantly leaking out of Gale Crater and the like, then enough of it must accumulate in the atmosphere for TGO to detect it from space.
Experts believe that something is destroying methane in less than 300 years and experiments are already underway to find out whether very low-level electrical discharges caused by dust in the Martian atmosphere could be responsible, or whether it could be the abundant oxygen in the atmosphere. Surface appearance.
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