Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is There Life on Mars?

According to a group study in 2003, they saw the spectral signal of methane gas, - a sign of biological activity on earth in Mars.
In January, Mumma, Director of NASA's Goddard Center for Astrobiology has announced his results: "broad plumes of methane emanate from the planet's surface."
They tracked the methane, expecting to find the gas spread uniformly, - but they instead detected localized clouds that only appear at certain times, - once in 2003 and again in 2005, during the Martian northern summer and southern spring. They found plumes that exist only in warmer periods when methane is released along the water.
The variability of methane suggests that the gas may be spewed by an ongoing geologic process like volcanism, or possibly through the metabolic activity of microbes. If underground life is the source, methane might be released during the warmer months as the ice melts.
According to Novak, a physicist in New Rochelle, New York, if life existed on Mars, it would break down chemically and methane would be a product.
The search is still on. In 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will touch down to sniff out evidence for methane, other organics, and life.