Photo credit: Daily Mail
NASA’s Curiosity rover mission discovered that the background levels of methane in Mars’ atmosphere cycle seasonally, peaking in the northern summer. So far, two surges have been detected to date of the gas inside the Red Planet’s 96-mile-wide Gale Crater — once during June 2013, and then again in late 2013 through early 2014. “While previous observations, including that of Curiosity, have been debated, this first independent confirmation of a methane spike increases confidence in the detections,” said study lead author Marco Giuranna, of the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Rome. Read more for another video and additional information.
“Remarkably, we saw that the atmospheric simulation and geological assessment, performed independently of each other, suggested the same region of provenance of the methane, which is situated about 500 km east of Gale. That methane could be released episodically along faults that break through the permafrost due to partial melting of ice, gas pressure buildup induced by gas accumulation during migration, or stresses due to planetary adjustments or local meteorite impact,” said the researchers.