Last week astrobiologists who are looking forlife in space, rejoiced: on Mars found a huge amount of methane gas. He discovered the rover "Curiosity" - a robot exploring the surface of the Red Planet. On Earth, this gas is produced mainly by living beings, and after being released into the atmosphere it disintegrates very quickly. It turns out, if there is methane on Mars, it has got there recently. Does this mean that there are living beings on Mars too? How are people looking for life on another planet?
How to search for life on Mars?
On Earth, life is everywhere. You see butterflies and people, animal tracks and bird droppings, even plants are also life. Because our planet supports life for billions of years and it had time to spread in the earth, water and air. But how to find life on a planet on which there are no traces of it? There is no water on Mars, no trees, no air, and flying to Mars is very long and difficult. People on Mars also have not been.
That is why scientists are trying to cling totraces of life or its remains: looking for some fossils, traces of bones, gases (you do produce gas, aren't you) or possible reservoirs that have not dried or frozen yet - it is very cold on Mars. But life could exist in the cold. To search for its traces, special robots are used. For example, "Curiosity":
What does the Curiosity rover look like?
In 2012, scientists officially announced thatMars atmosphere is not methane. Hope to find life on the Red Planet was greatly reduced. And so, just last week, the “Curiosity” rover “smelled” methane in the air - very little, much less than you can find in the air on our planet - 21 molecules per billion. And very quickly, this “high concentration” dropped to 1 billion per billion.
“The train came and the train left,” commented Paul Mahaffy, a NASA scientist.
But now it became clear that on Mars happenseasonal "bursts" of methane. Are they related to life? Unknown. Unfortunately, the Curiosity rover has no tools that can tell exactly what the origin of this methane is. It is important to understand who produces it: something alive or not. New missions to the Red Planet will make it possible to find out, but they need to be designed and landed right on target, where life will be as likely as possible.
Read how people are looking for life on Mars.