NASA Believes Curiosity Rover May Have Discovered Signs of Alien Life on Mars
Data from the Mars Curiosity Rover is leading NASA scientists to believe they may have detected the first ever signs of extraterrestrial life. Spikes of Methane, a key indicator of a bacterial presence, have been detected by the rover which has been on the Red Planet since 2012.
Below is a graph that shows the spike in methane detected by the Curiosity rover:
The fact that the methane levels spiked and reduced so swiftly is giving NASA scientists hope that the event was localized, and therefore from a specific source, such as an organic body. However, the discoveries came with a word of warning from NASA's Chris Webster who urged the world not to get too carried away just yet:
"Strictly speaking, our observations are evidence for methane production on Mars, and in themselves cannot directly provide evidence of microbial life.
However, from our positive detection of methane on Mars, we cannot rule out the possibility that both the low background level and the high methane values originate in part from microbial activity (methanogenesis). Our observations indicate that either the source shut off or the wind field at the source location changed to direct the emission away from us.
At this time, we have no idea what we will see in the future, or if we will ever see high values again.
This temporary increase in methane — sharply up and then back down — tells us there must be some relatively localized source. There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock."
NASA released a graphic that shows how methane could have become present on Mars:
Though these latest findings don't confirm the presence of life on Mars, they do show that the planet is more chemically active than previously thought, and the more chemically active a planetary body is, the better chance it has of playing host to life. The methan spikes will cause a great deal of excitement across the scientific community and beyond, but for the Curiosity Rover and the NASA team dedicated to operating it and analyzing its findings, the hard work is just getting started. "We will keep working on the puzzles these findings present,", said NASA Project Scientist, John Grotzinger. "Can we learn more about the active chemistry causing such fluctuations in the amount of methane in the atmosphere? Can we choose rock targets where identifiable organics have been preserved?"