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Astronomers edge closer to solving Mars’ methane mystery

22 Aug 2019, 08:28 UTC
Astronomers edge closer to solving Mars’ methane mystery
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The Curiosity rover reported a ‘highest-ever’ reading of methane from within the Gale Crater in June 2019. Image credit: NASA
Scientists have taken an important step towards revealing the mysterious source of methane on Mars, by refining estimates of the gas in the planet’s atmosphere.
The methane puffing from a huge crater on Mars could be a sign of life or other non-biological activity under the planet’s surface. Gale crater, which is 154 kilometres (96 miles) in diameter and about 3.8 billion years old, is thought by some to contain an ancient lakebed.
The team was able to improve the estimate of methane by using data from a satellite, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, and the Curiosity Rover, which collects rock, soil and air samples for onboard analysis.
Dr John Moores, an Australian National University (ANU) Visiting Fellow based at York University in Canada who led the new study, says scientists had been speculating for more than a decade as to what the source of methane on Mars could be.
“This new study redefines our understanding of how the concentration of methane in the atmosphere of Mars changes over time, and this helps us to solve the bigger mystery of what ...

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