Recent evidence collected by the Curiosity rover favors the theory of the existence of Martian life. The curiosity rover has identified mysterious, sudden spikes of methane gas from an unknown source. The spikes have left scientists puzzled and are now proposing a theory that the alarming readings are being created by bacteria like organisms residing either above or below the planet’s surface.
Often methane gas is a bi-product of living beings, scientists believe that this large, mysterious reading could be a sign that a substantial community of living things are producing the gas.
Prior to the abnormal readings satellite observations of the planet have detected similar large and mysterious pockets of the gas on the surface. Currently none have been noted to be as extraordinary as the rovers reading were. The methane plume was detected in the Gale crater, where scientists have found geological evidence that suggests the presence of free moving liquid water on the surface of Mars, millions of years ago.
Curiosity’s routine check of atmosphere and gas levels obtained a base reading of .69 parts per billion by volume (PPBBV) of methane and over the course of 60 Martian days, the levels jumped over a hundred percent, reaching 7.2 PPBBV. The readings were taken 200-300 meters apart from one another and less than a kilometer from where the base readings were first detected. The rover then traveled another kilometer before the presence of methane gas levels had dropped below the initial reading.The gas spike was detected and tracked by the rovers Turnable Laser Spectrometer (TAS), which uses intense light to perform chemical analysis.
Sushil Atraya a member of the Curiosity rover’s Science team and graduate of the University of Michigan, stated:
“This temporary increase in methane tells us there must be some relatively localized source”
The recent methane spike and geological formations of the Gale crater are only two of the most recent pieces of evidence that have been collected to support theorists claims that life once existed on Mars; the rover had also discovered organic chemicals in a rock found on the surface of the planet. This rock, named ‘Cumberland’, was drilled by the rover during its investigation, after the rock’s dust was analyzed by the rover it was found to contain organic chemicals; these chemicals are fundamentally the most basic elements to create life.
Although the recent discoveries on Mars are exciting as of yet there is still no solid evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that life, in any form, is currently existing on Mars. However the accumulation of these recent discoveries have produced a strong argument supporting theories that life exists on the desolate planet.