Monday, 18 June, 2018

Mars Might Just Be Habitable, Data From NASA Rover Shows

What has Nasa found on Mars? Alien life? Watch announcement livestream here New Mars discoveries advance case for possible life
Cary Marshall | 08 June, 2018, 02:18

That leaves open the possibility that microorganisms once populated our planetary neighbour and still might. What the study has done, though, is to propel the search for life on Mars higher up the list of global space exploration priorities - giving space agencies ammunition to argue for a coordinated programme of missions to explore the Red Planet.

On top of that, after keeping close tabs on methane levels in the Martian atmosphere, scientists have finally confirmed something weird is definitely going on, and they think they know what's causing it.

"With this new data, we again can not rule out microbial activity as a potential source", Webster said. The crystals may have obtained methane from ancient forms of life.

NASA is to announce new findings from Curiosity in a conference streamed live worldwide on Thursday. The Insight and ExoMars missions will teach scientists more about the planet's geology and methane.

Still, "we're in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life", NASA biogeochemist Jennifer Eigenbrode said in a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

A NASA robot has detected complex organic matter on Mars in a "significant breakthrough" in the hunt for life on the planet.

But NASA managers say the new discoveries show the agency's Mars exploration plans are on the right track.

"The big takeaway is that we can find evidence. Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter", said Eigenbrode. And life as we know it requires organic molecules to exist.

The space agency has not divulged specific information about what it may have found, leaving many to wonder what intriguing details will be learned about the red planet.

More news: Liverpool set to complete £53m signing of Nabil Fekir from Lyon

Curiosity's methane measurements occurred over four-and-a-half Earth years, covering parts of three Martian years.

"The seasonal methane peaks in the summer of the Martian northern hemisphere so the source has to be affected by those increasing temperatures from greater sunlight", astrophysicist Alan Duffy from Swinburne University in Australia told ScienceAlert.

"This is the first time we've seen something repeatable in the methane story, so it offers us a handle in understanding it", Chris Webster of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said.

"Not only have we got this wonderful repeatability, but the seasonal cycle changes by a factor of three". "It's tripling ... that's a huge, huge difference".

NASA's Curiosity Rover has explored the surface of Mars for five years, and has recently resumed drilling into rocks on the surface. The diameter is slightly smaller than a USA dime. The Viking Project was the first United States mission to safely land spacecraft on the Martian surface, as well as send back images. They could even have been transported from elsewhere in the solar system. The key samples in the latest findings came from a spot 6.4 kilometres away.

The team also found several spikes where methane abundance suddenly jumped to be higher than average during the year.

Launched in 2011, Curiosity was created to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes.

"The unbelievable consistency of the results makes me think we have a slam-dunk signal for organics on Mars".

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