Thursday, February 22, 2024

Features of the atmosphere of Mars: latest data demonstrate the relationship between methane pulses and changes in atmospheric pressure

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Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, working with data obtained from NASA’s Curiosity rover, presented new results, pointing to possible sources of methane pulses on Mars. These fluctuations may be related to changes in atmospheric pressure.


During the research, scientists modeled the movement of methane through underground cracks and its interaction with porous mountain rocks, which allowed to more accurately determine the processes occurring on the planet. Modeling results indicate the presence of methane pulses in the Martian summer before sunrise in the planet’s northern hemisphere.

John Ortis, a graduate student at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says: «Understanding variations in methane is a key step in determining its origin. Our research confirms that atmospheric pressure fluctuations play an important role in the release of methane from underground sources and its spread in the atmosphere of Mars.

Methane, considered a potential indicator of the presence of life, has seasonal and diurnal variations on Mars. This discovery helps scientists better understand the dynamics of this gas on the planet and could be useful for optimizing sample collection by the rover Curiosity.

Researchers note that these results provide new opportunities to study the potential presence of life on Mars. Careful investigation of methane pulses and their sources could help expand knowledge about biomarkers on Mars.

«Our work offers several important time windows for Curiosity’s data collection. We believe that they provide the best chance to constrain the time of methane fluctuations and, perhaps, ultimately help to better understand its origin on Mars», — said Ortis.

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