A set of geological results recently delivered courtesy of Curiosity's drill bit provides a deeper understanding of the organic chemistry of the 300-million-year-old mudstone in two separate parts of Gale crater.
The samples were found to contain thiophene, 2- and 3-methylthiophenes, methanethiol, and dimethylsulfide.
...The other set of results announced today deals with the mysterious case of Mars's methane. Spikes of methane (CH4) were first noticed in the Red Planet's atmosphere several years ago, drawing intense debate over the hydrocarbon's possible source.
Data from the plucky rover Curiosity and the Trace Gas Orbiter high above the planet have spotted it in puffs, suggesting a dynamic process is churning it out parts per billion.
It should take methane several hundred years to break apart in the presence of UV light, but that's not what happened on Mars. The surge in methane seems to fade as quickly as it appears, indicating there's not just a variable source, but a methane sink as well.
A new analysis of data gathered by Curiosity has confirmed a long-term pattern of methane highs and lows, varying between 0.24 to 0.65 parts per billion.
The most exciting news is that the changes definitely match the Martian seasons, hitting a peak at the end of summer in the northern hemisphere.
"This is the first time we've seen something repeatable in the methane story, so it offers us a handle in understanding it," said lead author of the second paper Chris Webster of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Thursday, June 07, 2018
Evidence of Organic Material on Mars
The odds of life on Mars get better all the time: