Pasadena (USA) – Since the detection of methane in the thin Martian atmosphere, the potential biosignature has been causing much controversy over whether the gas is of geological or biological origin. The question of where exactly the methane escapes from the Martian underground has also been a great mystery so far. Now some US scientists have succeeded for the first time in locating a methane source on the Mars surface and its location is very close to the Mars rover “Curiosity”.
In 2009, NASA scientists reported for the first time that they detected methane gas in the Martian atmosphere. In fact almost all atmospheric methane comes from biological processes. Since 2012, the NASA rover “Curiosity” has also been detecting methane at the Mars crater “Gale”.
Researchers at Caltech are now reporting that they have succeeded for the first time in locating a source of methane in the Gale crater by triangulating various methane measurements.
This source is only a few dozen kilometers from the rover’s current position. Even if the Martian methane does not originate from any biological processes, the existence of geochemically generated methane would still point to the existence of liquid water (and thus the basis of at least all earthly life) in the Gale crater.