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Scientists close the mysterious methane of Mars | Space

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<img aria-describedby = "caption-attachment-310231" class = "wp-image-310231 size-large" src = "https://en.es-static.us/upl/2019/04/Mars -Express-orbit -DLR-ESA-2018-800×450.jpg "alt =" A spacecraft with wide solar panels and a large antenna circulating around Mars. A new satellite data analysis independently confirmed the first detection of methane with the help of the NASA Curiosity Rover 2013. Image by DLR Institute of Planetary Studies

Where does methane be derived from Mars? This is one of the most intriguing secrets of Mars scientists in recent years. Can Mars methane be a testimony … life ?

The There is a correlated confirmation of one significant methane detection, which is the first case where the on-site measurement has been verified independently from orbit. Since NASA's time to land in 201

2, the NASA methane has been detected in the atmosphere of Mars, a new research led by Marco Juran from the National Institute Astrophysics and the Institute of Space Astrophysics and Planetology in Rome, Italy – confirms that the ESA Orbiter Mars Express detected a burst of methane in June 2013 the day after curiosity. The reviewed conclusion was reported in Nature Geoscience on April 1, 2019. According to Dmitry Titov, Mars Express project scientist, ESA:

Mars Express first reported the significant discovery of methane from orbit around Mars, and now, after 15 years, we can announce the first simultaneous and common detection of methane with a rover on the surface [19659006] Why is methane on Mars so interesting to scientists? According to last year, Eric Ruck called this gas life life, mainly because approximately 16 percent of annual emissions of methane into the Earth's atmosphere originate from the smell of cows. ESA explained:

The molecule attracts such attention, because on Earth, methane is formed by living organisms, as well as by geological processes. Since it can quickly be destroyed by atmospheric processes, any detection of a molecule in the Martian atmosphere means that it should have been released relatively recently – even if the methane itself was produced by millions or billions of years ago and still lying in the trap of underground reservoirs.

Although space vehicles and telescopic observations from the Earth as a whole reported the absence or very low levels of methane detection, or measurements directly on the limit of the capabilities of devices, a handful of spurious adhesions, as well as reports of seasonal changes to Curiosity in place of the Gale Crater, pick up an exciting the question of how it is generated and destroyed at the present time.

The growth of June 2013, which saw Curiosity, was about six ppb (parts per billion), while the detection of Mars Express the next day after measuring 15 ppb. This is very small compared with the level of methane in the Earth's atmosphere, but still significant. For comparison, the background levels of methane in the Gale Crater [where Curiosity is exploring on Mars] tend to range from 0.24 ppb to 0.65 ppb. From paper:

Reports on the detection of methane in the Martian atmosphere were intensively discussed. The presence of methane can improve viability and may even be a sign of life. However, the detection was not confirmed by independent measurements. Here we report a solid detection of 15.5 ± 2.5 ppb by volume of methane in the Martian atmosphere over the Gale Crater on June 16, 2013, using the Planetary Spectrometer Fur on board Mars Express, the day after the in-situ observation of the spike methane rocker curiosity. Methane was not found in other orbital passages. The detection uses improved geometry of observations, as well as more complex processing and analysis of data, and is a simultaneous, independent detection of methane. We perform a simulation of an ensemble of the Martian atmosphere … to determine the potential source of the region to the east of the Gale Crater. Our independent geological analysis also points to a source in this region where the Aeolis Mensae faults can propagate to the proposed Medusae Fossae Formation, and occasionally release gas that is contained below or inside the ice. Our identification of the probable release site will provide a focus for future studies on the origin of methane on Mars.

  Falsch map of Mars, with a crater marked in dark blue.

The grid of the region around the Gale Crater, where methane is most likely to arise, will arise, according to a new study. Image via ESA / Giuranna et al. [2019015] Although the Curiosity results were in themselves, the additional confirmation from Mars Express further strengthens the find and helps narrow the place where the methane spike occurred, as Juranna explained:

did not detect any methane, except for one specific detection of about 15 parts per one billion by volume of methane in the atmosphere, which appeared the day after the curiosity reported a surge of about six parts per billion

. a billion in total is relatively small, it is quite remarkable for Mars – our measurements correspond to an average of about 46 metric tons of methane [51 U.S. tons] which was present on an area of ​​49,000 square kilometers [19,000 sq miles] observed from our orbit. 19659008] So, both rover and orbital confirmed methane spike, but where did it come from? The Curiosity team speculates while it came northwards from the Marshall, but still inside the Gale Crater, where the rover was from 2012. But a new analysis suggests that he most likely came outside the crater, about 310 miles (500 kilometers) east. According to Giuranna:

Our new Mars Express data, taken one day after the Curiosity record, change the interpretation of where methane originates, especially when considering global atmospheric circulation patterns along with local geology. Based on the geological data and the amount of methane we measured, we believe that the source is unlikely to be located in the crater

  Considering the space of Mars, methane leaks up and flows up from cracks

An illustration of what processes could be create and destroy methane on Mars. Methane, most likely, comes from the surface and is thrown into the atmosphere through surface cracks. Image by ESA

Two independent analyzes came to one conclusion. The region around the Gail crater was divided into 250 square kilometers [96 sq miles] to narrow the spike

Researchers from the Royal Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) in Brussels, Belgium, conducted the first analysis using computer simulations to create one million possible emission scenarios for each square to predict the probability of methane emissions for each of these locations. The simulation was comprehensive, taking into account the measured data, the expected structure of atmospheric circulation and the intensity and duration of methane release on the basis of the geological phenomenon of "gas impregnation".

Geologists from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome, Italy and the Institute of Planetary Science in Tucson, Arizona, made a second analysis. This is aimed at identifying physical features of the terrain that may be associated with impregnating methane from the surface. Such features are widespread on Earth, including tectonic faults, mud volcanoes and natural gas deposits. According to co-author Giuseppe Etiope:

We have discovered tectonic faults that can spread below the area proposed to contain shallow ice. Since permafrost is a perfect seal for methane, then ice may be able to capture underground methane and release it episodically along faults that break through this ice. each other, suggesting the same region of origin of methane. This is very interesting and largely unexpected

  Curve of the bell indicating the amount of methane in the season

Diagram showing the seasonal fluctuations of the amount of methane detected by the Curiosity rover, reaching peak in warm months. Image by NASA / JPL-Caltech

Periodic or intermittent emissions of methane from such sources could have been consistent with observation from various telescopes and spacecraft for many years.

Our findings confirm the view that the release of methane to Mars may be characterized by small, temporary geological events rather than a constant replenishment of the global presence, but we should also better understand how methane is removed from the atmosphere and how to reconcile Mars Express data with the results of other missions

Scientists theorized that the most likely source of methane would be an underground state, and these results seem to support this. Periodically, pockets of methane are released in such small geological events. Curiously, methane emissions near the location were seasonal, apparently related to the warming season in the summer, which may explain small flares of methane released during the warming of ice deposits. NASA Rover has discovered atmospheric methane joints in 2013 and 2014. Image by NAS / JPL-Caltech

The value of the location of at least one methane burst is significant , but it does not tell us that methane was first created.On Earth, living organisms produce the overwhelming majority of methane, including underground ones, it can also be derived from geological activity.However, life also produces methane of Mars – most likely microbes – or geology? We do not know yet, and only further observations will help answer this Meanwhile, as Giuranna notes, methane source analysis will continue:

We will re-analyze most of the data collected by our tool in the past, continuing the ongoing monitoring efforts, including the coordination of some observations from Orbiter Trace Gas Trb.

Orbiter Trace Gas (TGO) – part of the mission of ESA ExoMars – unexpectedly discovered methane during the first studies of the Martian atmosphere, but it may not have been just Watch at the right time, since the explosions of methane It seems to be seasonal in nature. We hope that the following observations will be more successful: the spacecraft carries some of the most advanced devices designed to analyze methane and other trace gases.

Summary: The origin of methane in Mars is one of the most intriguing secrets of the red planet. We still do not know whether methane is geological or biological – or perhaps even both – but due to new data from Mars Express and Curiosity, we are now starting to close only where methane comes in – an important step towards defining that creates it.

Source: Independent confirmation of the methane burst on Mars and the source of the region to the east of the Gale Crater


  Paul Scott Anderson

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