Much has been opined about the possibility of life on Mars. The rovers that have been sent up there so far have yet to send back data that conclusively determines that there was life on Mars at any point since the planet’s existence. However, a recent discovery of methane gas has hinted at the possibility of life on the Red Planet.
NASA’s Curiosity rover detected “startlingly high” levels of methane, according to the New York Times. Methane is the gas provided by organic activity so it could suggest that there was some activity.
However, the quantities are very small at 21 parts per billion, but it’s pertinent to mention here that this is three times the amount that Curiosity picked up during a surge in 2013. This has surprised Curiosity’s operators enough to put their regularly scheduled studies to one side and gather follow-up data on these methane levels which is due to arrive on June 24th. It’s unclear what could have produced methane on Mars.
Many would be hoping that it leads to the discovery of recent or current underground microbial life. However, it could simply be due to geothermal reactions or methane from ages ago escaping to the surface. It would require an in-depth study of the additional data to figure out what this latest reading of methane on Mars means.