Curiosity finds that Mars’ methane changes with the seasons | Science News


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Curiosity finds that Mars’ methane changes with the seasons

The rover also discovered more signs of organic molecules

2:00pm, June 7, 2018
Curiosity rover

TURN, TURN, TURN  Curiosity took this selfie on Mars in February. The rover has found what appears to be a seasonal cycle of methane in the Martian atmosphere and more signs of organic molecules in the soil.

To Martian methane, there is a season.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found evidence that methane in Mars’ thin atmosphere varies during the year. Higher concentrations appear in late summer and early autumn in the northern hemisphere and lower concentrations in the winter and spring, researchers report in the June 8 Science.

What’s more, Curiosity also spotted organic molecules previously unseen on Mars preserved in mudstone, some of the same researchers report in another study in the same issue of Science. Although neither methane nor organics alone are signs of life, the implications for astrobiology are “potentially huge,” says planetary scientist Michael Mumma of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who was not involved in the studies.

In 2004,

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