Curiosity does not find methane on Mars

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The first attempt to trace the methane on Mars ended in disappointment.Although it may be produced by abiotic sources, methane on Earth is produced primarily by biological sources.In 2009, NASA announced with fanfare the discovery of methane on Mars , with measurements taken from ground-based telescopes.

This generated great expectations for measurements to be performed by the robot Curiosity, which took on board the latest equipment to detect trace elements at concentrations as low as 1 part per billion (ppb).

The simulations indicated that the instrument SAM ( Sample Analysis at Mars ) should find methane in concentrations between 20 ppb and 35 ppb. But after making and remaking four analyzes of two samples, the result was zero.

Methane zero

Due to the uncertainties in the measurements, scientists say the results indicate that methane on Mars “can be between 0 and 5 ppb, with 95% certainty.”But even this upper limit (5 ppb) would be too low for all hypotheses involving bacterial life so far.”Methane is clearly not a gas abundant in the region of Gale Crater, if it exists. At this point the mission we were very excited about the search for methane,” the scientist said Chris Webster, during a conference sponsored by NASA where nobody managed to disguise his disappointment.

But mission scientists say that the question is still open, and that results may change with new measurements and especially with the use of other equipment of Curiosity – the robot has 10 instruments designed to search for signs of microbial life on Mars .

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