(Image Source: NASA)


BY STEVEN SPARKMAN AND SHANLEY REYNOLDS
ANCHOR ANA COMPAIN-ROMERO


NASA may not have found life on Mars, but they’ve proved arguments over suspicious smells can span the solar system.

It turns out NASA scientists have been arguing about the presence of Methane in Mars’s atmosphere — and what finding a source of the gas would mean — for decades. (Via NASA)

Cue Curiosity. The car-sized robot has been sniffing the Mars air, looking for traces of methane using its largest instrument, the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM.

“The rover carries 10 different instruments, but SAM is Curiosity's heart … SAM is designed to detect organic compounds, the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.” (Via Space.com)

Methane on earth is usually produced by living organisms, and it’s thought to not hang around long in Mars’s atmosphere. So if the rover had smelled any of the gas, it would probably be recent, and probably caused by life.

No such luck yet, but NASA says they’ll keep on looking.


Despite the story being basically “nothing found,” the fact that Curiosity hasn’t detected any methane actually helps settle a scientific mystery. NASA instruments detected huge methane plumes on the planet in 2009, but the findings have been called into question.

A writer for Wired says:

“The detection excited much of the scientific community because these hotspots could have been areas where underground Martian microbes were alive on modern-day Mars. Later measurements ... cast doubt on these methane detections, and one of Curiosity’s main tasks has been to provide evidence one way or another.”

The fact that NASA called a press conference to say they hadn’t found life on Mars wasn’t lost on science bloggers. The Sarcastic Rover account tweeted:

“For a complete list of things I have NOT FOUND on Mars, just look at pretty much everything around you… unless it's a rock.”

io9 points out “Curiosity’s mission on Mars is still very much in its infancy.” With or without methane in Mars’ air, Curiosity has a lot left to do in it’s mission.

NASA Says Curiosity Hasn't Discovered Life on Mars... Yet

by Steven Sparkman
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Transcript
Nov 2, 2012

NASA Says Curiosity Hasn't Discovered Life on Mars... Yet

(Image Source: NASA)


BY STEVEN SPARKMAN AND SHANLEY REYNOLDS
ANCHOR ANA COMPAIN-ROMERO


NASA may not have found life on Mars, but they’ve proved arguments over suspicious smells can span the solar system.

It turns out NASA scientists have been arguing about the presence of Methane in Mars’s atmosphere — and what finding a source of the gas would mean — for decades. (Via NASA)

Cue Curiosity. The car-sized robot has been sniffing the Mars air, looking for traces of methane using its largest instrument, the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM.

“The rover carries 10 different instruments, but SAM is Curiosity's heart … SAM is designed to detect organic compounds, the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.” (Via Space.com)

Methane on earth is usually produced by living organisms, and it’s thought to not hang around long in Mars’s atmosphere. So if the rover had smelled any of the gas, it would probably be recent, and probably caused by life.

No such luck yet, but NASA says they’ll keep on looking.


Despite the story being basically “nothing found,” the fact that Curiosity hasn’t detected any methane actually helps settle a scientific mystery. NASA instruments detected huge methane plumes on the planet in 2009, but the findings have been called into question.

A writer for Wired says:

“The detection excited much of the scientific community because these hotspots could have been areas where underground Martian microbes were alive on modern-day Mars. Later measurements ... cast doubt on these methane detections, and one of Curiosity’s main tasks has been to provide evidence one way or another.”

The fact that NASA called a press conference to say they hadn’t found life on Mars wasn’t lost on science bloggers. The Sarcastic Rover account tweeted:

“For a complete list of things I have NOT FOUND on Mars, just look at pretty much everything around you… unless it's a rock.”

io9 points out “Curiosity’s mission on Mars is still very much in its infancy.” With or without methane in Mars’ air, Curiosity has a lot left to do in it’s mission.

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