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

by alex

Scientists predict timing of methane pulses and suggest optimal time for Curiosity rover to collect samples

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

During the study, scientists modeled the movement of methane through underground cracks and its interaction with porous rocks, which made it possible 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 northern hemisphere of the planet.

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

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

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

«Our work suggests several important time windows for Curiosity's data collection. We believe they provide the best chance to limit the timing of methane fluctuations and may ultimately help better understand its origins on Mars», — Ortiz said.

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