Is the discovery of methane in the Martian atmosphere a possible sign of life?

With the help of science and technology, when human beings walk out of the earth and see the vast universe, they have a strong interest in exploring the mysterious universe. The universe is vast and vast, there are many mysteries waiting for human to solve and decipher, and the existence of extraterrestrial life is one of the many mysteries, which is the most concerned by scientists.

In order to search for extraterrestrial life, we must find planets that may exist. Before human beings have the ability to explore the solar system, the planets we can explore are limited to the solar system. There are eight planets in the solar system and three in the habitable zone, including Venus, earth and Mars.

The environment on the surface of Venus is very bad. Although it has a thick atmosphere, the main component is carbon dioxide, so it often rains acid rain. Moreover, the temperature on the surface of Venus is as high as 400 degrees Celsius, so the possibility of life on such a purgatory planet is very rare, which is excluded by scientists. All that’s left is Mars.

Mars and the earth have many similarities, but also has a thin atmosphere, and the surface environment is not as bad as Venus. Scientists regard Mars as the first planet for human beings to explore extraterrestrial life. For this reason, over the past decades, scientists have launched dozens of Mars probes, including space orbiters and Mars rovers.

If we want to explore whether there is life on Mars, we must find several conditions to support the birth of life on Mars, one is liquid water, the other is organic matter. Because the temperature of Mars is relatively low, the possibility of the existence of liquid water is not great, so is it possible for organic matter to exist?

Fifteen years ago, a European Mars probe first reported the detection of trace amounts of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Since then, there has been a heated debate in the academic circle, because a large source of methane gas on earth is the activities of microorganisms.

Methane has a very special property, that is, it is not stable in the atmosphere, and can not exist in the atmosphere for a long time like other gases. Its life is only 12 years at most, and it will be decomposed successively in less than 12 years. Therefore, if the content of methane in the atmosphere wants to be stable, there must be a source that can continuously produce methane.

On earth, a large part of methane comes from life activities, which is why scientists are very excited to find methane in the Martian atmosphere. In a paper published Monday in Nature Geoscience, scientists revisited the issue of methane in the Martian atmosphere.

In this new article, an international expert group interprets the observation data of two Mars spacecraft in 2013. The corresponding observation interval between the two spacecraft is only one day, which fully ensures the mutual confirmation of the conclusions. The results show that: the cross validation from two sources proves that there is a stable methane content in the Martian atmosphere.

There is no doubt that there is methane in the atmosphere of Mars. Does this mean that there may be life on Mars? Scientists are also sure that to understand this problem, we need to find out the possible source of stable methane in the Martian atmosphere. For this, scientists have proposed a possible location, the ice layer on the east side of Gail crater. Long ago, scientists thought that there might have been a lake on ancient Mars.

On June 16, 2013, the European Mars Express probe detected 15.5ppb of methane in the Martian atmosphere above Gail crater. About 24 hours before that, data from NASA’s Mars rover curiosity, not far from Gail crater, also confirmed the presence of methane. So could the ice on the east side of Gail crater really be the source of methane in the Martian atmosphere?

The researchers conducted more than one million computer simulations of the 250 km radius of Gail crater to determine the possible sources of methane release. The results show that the most likely source of methane emission is a rock structure with a frozen layer, which researchers believe has been releasing methane into the atmosphere intermittently.

Some scientists have pointed out that although most of the methane gas on the earth comes from life activities, which is a sign of the existence of life on the earth, there are still many uncertain factors on Mars whether the situation is the same as that on the earth. Methane gas may be the characteristic of microbial activity, but life activity is not the only source of methane, and non life activity can also produce methane.

Although the existence of stable methane has been confirmed on Mars, it is still a mystery whether its source is living or non living activities. More exploration and research are needed. Perhaps in the future, human beings will be able to land on Mars and go to the ice layer near Gail crater for sampling, observation and research, which may uncover the mystery of the source of Martian methane.

With the deepening of human exploration of Mars, more and more people know about Mars. Although no liquid water has been found on Mars, it is an indisputable fact that there is an ice sheet on Mars. Scientists believe that Mars may have been a very humid and warm planet in ancient times, with a large amount of liquid water. This can be proved by the existence of a large number of crisscross ancient rivers on the surface of Mars.

In ancient times, Mars may have been a livable planet like the earth, and it may have bred early life. But later, Mars did not know what great changes had taken place, and its ecological environment was destroyed, so it became such a desolate environment.

The discovery of ice and methane on Mars is too important for human beings, which means that although Mars is very desolate now, it still has a livable foundation. With a series of modifications, Mars may become the second earth of human beings in the future, and become a migrant planet of human beings. Methane on Mars is also an important resource, which can provide energy for human survival on Mars and fuel for spacecraft returning to earth.

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