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Friday, September 20, 2013

The Curiosity rover's reported failure to detect methane on Mars is a blow to life theories...

Msl20110602 PIA14175-full
Msl20110602 PIA14175-full (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Curiosity rover's failure to detect methane on Mars is a blow to theories that the planet may still host some types of life, say mission scientists.
Telescopes and satellites have reported seeing small but significant volumes of the gas, but the six-wheeled robot can pick up no such trace.
On Earth, 95% of atmospheric methane is produced by microbial organisms.
Researchers have hung on to the hope that the molecule's signature at Mars might also indicate a life presence.
The inability of Curiosity's sophisticated instrumentation to make this detection is likely now to dent this optimism.
"Based on previous measurements, we were expecting to go there and find 10 parts per billion (ppbv) or more, and we were excited about finding it. So when you go to search for something and you don't find it, there's a sense of disappointment," said Dr Chris Webster, the principal investigator on Curiosity's Tuneable Laser Spectrometer (TLS).
The Nasa rover's search is reported online in a paper published by Science Magazine.
Curiosity has been sucking in Martian air and scanning its components since shortly after landing in August 2012.
From these tests, it has not been possible to discern any methane to within the present limits of the TLS's sensitivity.

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At September 20, 2013 at 2:43 PM , Blogger Snowbird said... disappointing. I was really hoping for a breakthrough. xxxx

At September 21, 2013 at 7:28 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Wasn't to be.Thanks for your comments.


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