An experiment has begun by some scientists and they aimed to solve the mystery of the great Martian methane of Mars. Scientists have said that in the coming next few months, they are hoping to determine about the gas which has been detected on the red planet in the recent years. They believed to determine the origin of gas are geological in nature or are produced by living organisms.
On our planet Earth, methane is usually produced by microbes but the gas can also be generated by using simple geological processes which takes place under the ground. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which revolves around the red planet for more than a year, has been designed in order to determine the sources which are responsible for the planet’s methane.
The sensors of the craft which are deployed last week had begun taking their first measurement of the planet’s atmosphere. Mark McCaughrean who is the senior advisor for science and exploration at the European Space Agency said, “ If we find traces of methane that are mixed with more complex organic molecules, it will be a strong sign that methane on Mars has a biological source and that it is being produced – or was once produced – by living organisms.”
He added by saying, “However, if we find it is mixed with gases such as sulfur dioxide, that will suggest its source is geological, not biological. In addition, methane made biologically tends to contain lighter isotopes of the element carbon than methane that is made geologically.”
Astronomers have found the traces of methane gas on Mars on several occasions. NASA’s Curiosity rover also recorded the presence of gas on the surface of the Mars. the atmospheric methane breaks up quickly in the presence of ultraviolet solar radiation. Hakan Svedhem, who is the orbiter’s project scientist said, “We will look at sunlight as it passes through the Martian atmosphere and study how it is absorbed by methane molecules there. We should be able to detect the presence of the gas to an accuracy of one molecule in every 10 billion molecules.”
According to Svedhem, if the methane gas is in biological form, then two scenarios may arise which are long-extinct microbes which are disappeared millions of years ago have left methane to seep slowly to the surface or life is still present in the red planet.