Sensacja na Marsie. To mogą być ślady życia

Sensation on Mars. These may be traces of life

The Curiosity rover has detected a mysterious stream of gas coming from the Gale Crater. It appears at different times of the day and changes seasonally. Scientists have a hypothesis about what blocks it. Methane itself may be a trace of life on the Red Planet.

The gas emerging from the Gale crater turned out to be methane. It is produced in nature as a result of the anaerobic decomposition of plant remains. It is also a gas released by animals when digesting food. There are many indications that it is hidden beneath the surface of Mars. The gas is supposed to be contained by underground salt deposits, which only allow it to pass through at higher temperatures. In the case of Mars, its source still remains mystery.

What's hiding under the shell?

In laboratory experiments that mimic Martian soil conditions, scientists have been able to simulate what might happen there. Over long periods of time, salts seep deep beneath the rocky, dusty surface of the planet known as regolith. These salts are called perchlorates and are found in large quantities in the ice trapped on Mars. However, this ice gradually evaporates, leaving some perchlorates in the regolith, creating a kind of crust blocking the flow of methane.

“On Mars, such a process may occur naturally over long periods of time in shallow permafrost regions, and it may be possible for enough salt to accumulate in the upper layer to form a seal,” wrote the scientists behind the new study, which was published in the journal JGR Planets – reports the Daily Mail.

According to scientists' assumptions the shell itself is not large. It's probably about two centimeters thick. Researchers suggest further measurements that could help confirm their hypothesis. These include measuring methane when the rover reaches an area with high salt content (such as salt veins) or trying to analyze the composition of the air while drilling into a salt-rich surface.

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