Another possible biosignature gas is behaving surprisingly in Mars’ air. We already knew, due to NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, that methane ranges within the 96-mile-broad Gale Crater rise during the summer months and that concentrations of the fuel have spiked a number of occasions dramatically over the previous few years, for unknown causes. And now, a brand new research studies that the six-wheeled robotic has noticed one thing comparable with oxygen, one other potential signal of life.
The newly reported outcomes come courtesy of Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, a small chemistry lab that the rover carries on its body. The mission team has been utilizing SAM to characterize the Red Planet’s atmosphere and analyze samples of dust and drilled rock since Curiosity landed inside Gale Crater in August 2012.
The study that was published online on Nov. 12, Tuesday within the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, gives a detailed have to look at the SAM atmospheric measurements from 2012 to 2017. The information present that the air inside Gale Crater is 95% carbon dioxide (CO2) by volume, 2.6% molecular nitrogen (N2), 1.9% argon (Ar), 0.16% molecular oxygen (O2) and 0.06% carbon monoxide (CO).
There are not any surprises in these numbers. However, the group discovered that O2 ranges do not comply with the identical seasonal patterns as these different gases, rising significantly higher than predicted within the spring and summer season, and falling beneath anticipated ranges in the course of the Gale Crater winter.
However, the mystery doesn’t justify leaping to the conclusion that Mars microbes are concerned, the scientists stressed. Indeed, some sort of geological course is probably going responsible, examine crew members mentioned. (Each methane and oxygen can be produced by abiotic and biological processes.)