Mars rover Curiosity found methane in the Martian atmosphere
Mars rover Curiosity first analyzed the composition of the Martian atmosphere, reported JPL NASA. Methane, the presence of which would be a proof of the fact that on this planet once cuschestvovala microbial life was found.
Modern Martian atmosphere is about 100 times thinner earth, but scientists believe that in ancient times it was much closer to ensure a more mild climate of the planet. Atmospheric data collected by the instrument SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars), will help scientists to understand the reasons why Mars lost its ancient thick atmosphere.
The device SAM, which consists of a laser spectrometer, mass spectrometer and a gas chromatograph, made the first few "puffs" from the accumulation of sand and Martian soil in Gale Crater, which NASA scientists have dubbed "the rock socket» (Rocknest), reports RIA "Novosti" .
Initial data indicate that in the Martian atmosphere at more than 5% of the heavy isotopes (variants of an atom with a large number of neutrons in the nucleus) of carbon, a component molecules of carbon dioxide, compared with the concentration, which was supposed to exist in the era of the formation of Mars.
The SAM data also showed an increased proportion of heavy isotopes of argon, which corresponds to the data obtained in the study of Martian meteorites.
Furthermore, SAM first attempted to conduct accurate measurement of the amount of methane in the atmosphere. Initial data indicate that in the area of the crater Gale virtually no methane. Laser spectrometer measured the concentration of this gas was less than a few parts per billion. Previous data obtained with the orbiters, showed that methane is in the atmosphere of Mars and its concentration undergoes seasonal variations.
Curiosity rover landed on Mars on August 6. On board Curiosity are ten scientific instruments a total weight of 75 pounds, which will allow the rover to carry out detailed geological and geochemical studies, to study the atmosphere and climate of the planet, look for water and traces of the organic matter.