In the atmosphere of Mars traces of ammonia, which may indicate the existence on this planet organic life.
According to the researchers, the ammonia lines observed in the spectra of the Martian atmosphere derived orbital station Mars Express, a European Space Agency.
Ammonia can exist in the atmosphere for a short time. Sources of this gas in the atmosphere can be only two — either active volcanoes on Mars, which has not yet been found, or the activities of microbes.
According to one of planetary scientists in the U.S. space agency NASA, the presence of ammonia in the atmosphere of Mars can be unambiguous sign of life on the planet.
The first data on the traces of ammonia in the Martian atmosphere were obtained Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) installed on board Mars Express.
Professor Vittorio Formisano, who is responsible for the operation of this device is to publish new data obtained by the spectrometer on the opening next week in Paris, the international conference.
The spectrometer analyzes the PSF radiation ranges 1,2-5 microns and 5-50 microns. The spectra in these ranges are able to fix the existence of complex molecules, such as water or carbon dioxide. Ammonia is recorded in the spectral line 10 microns.
So far, the scientists were able to analyze only a small part of the data obtained by the spectrometer PSF, despite the fact that the station Mars Express in orbit around Mars since December 2003.
According to the researchers, the reason for this is the complexity of both the instrument and technical problems with the power supply of the station.
So far, the spectrometer PSF observed the reduction of carbon dioxide and the increase in the content of water vapor over the largest volcanic craters on Mars.
However, the special interest of scientists drew on data content in the atmosphere of small amounts of which are found in the spectrometer, high-resolution mode.
Is there life on Mars …
A few months ago, so in the Martian atmosphere had traces of methane. This is yet another gas, which may be a source of organic origin.
Ammonia molecules can not exist in a stable form in the Martian atmosphere. If this gas is replenished somehow he disappears within a few hours.
Scientists have ruled out the possibility that ammonia could get into the atmosphere of depreciation bags lander Beagle 2, which was lost when trying to land on Mars. The analysis showed that the distribution of ammonia is not compatible with this hypothesis.
Value in the presence of ammonia Mars atmosphere is that the gas molecules is a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen. Nitrogen on Mars is small, but since no form of life on earth can not do without it, the presence of ammonia may indicate that Martian bacteria, of course, if they exist, can process it.
In terrestrial conditions, ammonia is released lava ejected onto the surface or accumulating beneath it. However, while that on the surface of Mars is not revealed areas of volcanic activity.
As one of their experts NASA, there is no other explanation for the presence of ammonia in the Martian atmosphere that are not based on the existence of life on the planet.
Two U.S. rovers that landed on the surface of the Red Planet in January will not be able to answer the question of the source of ammonia, as they are designed mainly for geological research.
In the future, new devices spacecraft sent to Mars, will be developed in order to analyze the ammonia to determine its biological or volcanic origin.
Battery News, 16/07/2004 17:24