NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has detected no methane in its first analyses of the Martian atmosphere — news that will doubtless disappoint those who hope to find life on the Red Planet.
Living organisms produce more than 90 percent of the methane found in Earth's atmosphere, so scientists are keen to see if Curiosity picks up any of the gas in Mars' air. But the 1-ton rover has come up empty in the first atmospheric measurements taken with its Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, or SAM, researchers announced today (Nov. 2).
"The bottom line is that we have no detection of methane so far," Chris Webster, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told reporters today.
"But we're going to keep looking in the months ahead since Mars, as we all know, may yet hold surprises for us," added Webster, who is instrument lead for SAM's Tunable Laser Spectrometer.