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Viewings: 3259The first results of the analysis of the Martian atmosphere, made apparatus Curiosity, who is now "parked" Gale crater. Alas, laser spectrometer haven't recorded traces of methane, which is traditionally considered one of the main signs of life. But we had hoped to find on the red planet brothers in mind!
The presence of methane or its compounds scientists traditionally seen as a sign of potential habitability of planets, as this gas can be produced different bacteria. Now it is believed that large quantities of methane can accumulate on earth-planets only if there living organisms.
It turned out that compared with estimates of the isotopic composition of the atmosphere of Mars during the period of its formation, the share of heavy isotopes of carbon in carbon dioxide rose by 5 percent. This suggests that the upper layers of the atmosphere "off" to interplanetary space. Heavy isotope enriched and argon, which corresponds to the research results got on the Ground of Martian meteorites.
But the methane to everyone's disappointment, Mars is missing. While on Earth, its concentration is approximately 1,700 parts per billion, and mostly it is a product of vital activity, although small quantities of this gas come to us with comets or synthesized by chemical reactions, going below the surface.
According to estimates of the last decades, the share of methane on Mars should be 30 to 45 parts per billion. Moreover, in some regions of the planet was observed sudden spurts of his concentration. However, it was found that carbon-rich micrometeoroid of the asteroid belt dominated by carbon celestial bodies, burning in the Martian atmosphere, put down the components for the formation of methane under the influence of ultraviolet rays relatively easily penetrating into the thin atmosphere of the red planet. However, the percentage delivered them to Mars methane is very small.
In 2003 Michael Mamma of space flight Center NASA Goddard announced that ound" methane train. However, this was not in that part of Mars, where now is Curiosity. According to some scientists, methane on the red planet may still be present, but in the area of location of the Rover its concentration may be minimal - 0-5 parts per billion.
Laser spectrometer analyzed four samples of the Martian ir". In the first two methane is present in a concentration of 7-8 parts per billion. However, the experts concluded that the balance of earth's atmosphere. The last two samples were "Bezmenova".
Further for a more accurate assessment is expected to resort to the next trick. If before the break to choose from it carbon dioxide, methane concentration levels will increase in ten and more times. This will allow you to find it even with such scanty ratios as 100 parts per trillion. However, at the same time will increase and error, so the results cannot be considered as fully satisfactory. Moreover, when the minimum concentration of the spectrometer is unable to ascertain which of the isotopes of carbon present in the methane: if carbon-12 is a product of vital activity of microorganisms, carbon-13, as a rule, does not have a biological origin. In order to classify isotopes, the share of methane should amount to several tens of parts per billion.
And yet with hope to find on Mars methane is difficult to say good-bye. In November of next year there will depart space station NASA MAVEN, with the task and identification of the sources of methane. In 2016, the European space Agency plans to launch to Mars probe Trace Gas Orbiter. It is expected that he will be able to find the sources of methane and put them on the map, after which there will guide the Rover.
In the scientific sphere there are contradictory opinions about these projects. Some call them "concerts.com" and consider hopeless. Others, however, protect. So, Manish Patel from the Open University (UK) indicates that the ESA probe will be engaged in search of methane at different altitudes, including closer to the Sun that will allow to discover this gas in concentrations of up to 14 parts per trillion.
However, is it really so to focus on methane? After all, in the atmosphere of the red planet there are other gases of interest to researchers...
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