NASA’s Curiosity rover has found that the oxygen levels in the air in the Mars’s Gale Crater change along with the seasons on the Red Planet, rising in the spring and summer and falling during the winter. This follows Curiosity’s discovery that Martian methane also fluctuates with the seasons, and
Mars has been hitting the headlines lately as scientists reveal more and more about the Red Planet’s past. But could this latest piece of evidence really be it? Have scientists really found solid proof of life on Mars?
Strange methane emissions have been detected by NASA researchers in data collected by one of the rover Curiosity’s instruments, and scientists believe that they are being caused by life forms, most likely bacteria. On Earth, life forms are the primary producers of methane, although there could be other possible explanations.
When NASA’s Curiosity Rover first dug into the Martian desert, it found clays that could only have been formed by fresh water. This meant that, around three billion years ago, Mars was a watery planet. But did it support life? On the first anniversary of its landing, halfway through its primary mission, Curiosity is headed to the foothills of Mount Sharp, an 18,000-foot mountain whose rocks could provide clues to a time on Mars when life could have thrived. But because Curiosity is driving at a careful pace–about a hundred yards a day–the journey will take eight or nine months to complete.
NASA has announced that one of the instruments on the Curiosity Rover has sent back some extraordinary data, but the transmission is still being checked to make certain that it is not a fluke, and so far the space agency has not made an official statement about what the instrument has detected.