Methane @ Gale?

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RJS







PostPosted: October 24, 2012 6:04 PM 


Has anyone heard whether or not Curi has sniffed the air and what the results were? It is my understanding that Curi will be trying to determine if methane is present; and if so in what quantaties. I found this article interesting "http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/1112714459/mars-methane-malynda-chizek-101712/" and am wondering when NASA will be releasing mars air sampling results. Thought someone here might know.

Thx...

Paul Scott Anderson


Posts: 53

Reply: 1



PostPosted: October 24, 2012 8:56 PM 

In the press briefing last week, it was mentioned that some results might be released within the next month or so. They want to keep re-testing first, which makes me wonder if they've detected the methane, because if the initial tests showed just the usual "ordinary" atmospheric constituents, then why the need to re-test several times before saying anything?

RJS


Posts: 125

Reply: 2



PostPosted: October 24, 2012 9:37 PM 


Thanks Paul... That was sort of my thinking. I know there were NASA concerns earlier that maybe the equipment was contaminated with earth air, but I thought that was resolved awhile ago. Now I'm thinking perhaps they have detected methane at Gale, but want to make sure its not earth's methane before going public? (I'm not sure that last statement makes any sense; I guess there's no difference from what methane is from one planet to the next?)

It will be interesting when the results are released!

Barsoomer


Posts: 344

Reply: 3



PostPosted: October 24, 2012 10:40 PM 

If there was a strong signal or no signal, I think the results would likely be out by now. To explain the delay, I see a few possibilities.

1. There might be a borderline signal and they are trying to increase confidence one way or the other. The Phoenix scientists spent a lot of time trying to find an organics signal in their results but eventually gave up.

2. There might be a moderate signal, and they are trying to tease out whether it involves light or heavy carbon isotopes (since that might bear upon whether the methane is biotic or abiotic).

3. They saw something completely unexpected that perhaps contradicts results from other instruments and they are trying to resolve the discrepancy.

When they do release the results, I expect a full press conference, not the telecon we see every week now.

MPJ


Posts: 250

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PostPosted: October 25, 2012 3:48 AM 

If the findings of the orbital and earth bound methane observations on Mars are correct I would expect a very very low methane signal in Gale during very early spring if any. Gale crater is - at best - near an outer edge of an area with seasonal methane plumes and the seasonal accumulation of methane occurs during summer and autumn while it vanish during winter (if the measurements so far are to be trusted that is).
It would really be a surprise if the MSL SAM system has picked up a rather strong indigenous methane signal already which would put some doubt on the other measurements so far or would tell an interesting story about near surface methane which is somewhat blocked for detection from orbit... Smile

Barsoomer


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PostPosted: October 25, 2012 3:50 PM 

link

Earth-based measurements have claimed 5 "mega-cows" of methane on Mars but the detections have been disputed. Curiosity's instruments are supposed to be sensitive to parts per billion of methane so it should be able to detect even trace amounts leaking from a plume.

Paul Scott Anderson


Posts: 53

Reply: 6



PostPosted: October 25, 2012 4:02 PM 

There is a new rumour that Curiosity may have found methane:

http://www.exploremars.org/jpl-briefing-1-november-2012-2-pm-edtmethane-on-mars

RJS


Posts: 125

Reply: 7



PostPosted: October 25, 2012 5:28 PM 


The press is becoming very active with articles about possible dectection of methane by MSL's SAM. Depending on the quantaties and types of methane that may have been detected, I can understand NASA wanting to keep this close to their vests until absolutly sure of their findings. This has the potential of being a game changer as to wehether life currently exists on Mars.

I'm not an American, but is there any chance that NASA would be reluctant to make such a history making announcement prior to the elections? Or does that matter?

Nancy


Posts: xxx

Reply: 8



PostPosted: October 25, 2012 6:20 PM 

Nasa detected methane gas on Mars years ago, here is a short video on the findings:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvHnYXpeRsA

RJS


Posts: 125

Reply: 9



PostPosted: October 25, 2012 7:28 PM 


Thx Nancy. I had forgotten about that video; but I did see it back in 2009 when it was posted. NASA made a big deal of detecting methane on Mars 3 years ago. Near the end of the video it mentions the fact that MSL would be able to detect methane and perhaps determine whether it is chemically or biologically produced. I guess that's why I, and many others, are anxious to see the results.

Barsoomer


Posts: 344

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PostPosted: October 26, 2012 12:42 AM 

link

Several new media are already saying Curiosity has discovered methane, without giving a source. Others are more cautious.

marsman


Posts: 303

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PostPosted: October 27, 2012 1:12 AM 

There are areas of Mars in which there are plumes of methane that are produced with a seasonal variation that starts in the spring and peaks in the summer. The methane plumes have been detected at Nilli Fossae, Arabia Terra, and Syrtis Major. One of the plumes puts out 21,000 tons of methane every Martian year.

[link]

As Barsoomer mentioned earlier, the total output is 200,000 tons of methane per Martian year.

[link]

The type of methane being produced on Mars would be of great interest. There is no indication that the MSL is cabable of discerning biotic methane from abiotic methane, since they were (are) not looking for signs of life on this mission.

http://gozie.com/video/2DDRUSA7GW95/Mars-Methane-Could-It-Mean-Life

However, there is a device that can make this determination that is called the cavity ring-down spectrometer (CRDS).

[link]

I think there is plan to have this device on the ExoMars mission for 2016.

http://www.astrobio.net/exclusive/4011/five-steps-toward-future-exploration

I'm wishing the Russians good luck on this!

/R

marsman


marsman


Posts: 303

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PostPosted: October 27, 2012 2:25 AM 

Arabia Terra is a site for possible hydrothermal springs.

[link]

Nili Fossae is another site for possible hydrothermal activity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nili_Fossae

Syrtis Major is yet another area for hydrothermal activity.

[link]

The following article suggests that the methane is being produced by the Archea bacteria at the hydrothermal springs in Yellowstone.

[link]

/R

marsman

kevin


Posts: xxx

Reply: 13



PostPosted: October 30, 2012 10:10 AM 

The JPL briefing will not be discussing methane this time around maybe next week. Boo we want to know.

valhalla


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Reply: 14



PostPosted: October 31, 2012 6:20 PM 

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) on Friday, Nov. 2, to provide an update on Curiosity's studies of the Martian atmosphere."

They got summat' whether biological or other remains a speculation.
By their obvious coyness...could be game changing Cool

Maybe exobiology has their first ET to practise on Laughing

RJS


Posts: 125

Reply: 15



PostPosted: October 31, 2012 7:21 PM 


Thanks valhalla... You would think if they were announcining ETs have been found, it would be a little bigger show than a media teleconference.

At yesterdays media teleconference when asked whether or not methane had been detected by Curi, they said "stay tuned".

kevin


Posts: xxx

Reply: 16



PostPosted: November 1, 2012 1:02 PM 

Ahead of the media conference here is a little bit on Mars Methane:

http://www.nature.com/news/curiosity-set-to-weigh-in-on-mars-methane-puzzle-1.11721

MPJ


Posts: 250

Reply: 17



PostPosted: November 1, 2012 3:11 PM 

Sooner or later they have to make statements about findings regarding the real important things of Mars exploration taken the instrumentation of this mega expensive purely geologic mission which is disguised as a search for ancient habitability and Martian photo shooting trip to make it sound better for the public.
Its easy to ignore or explain away any fossil like visual findings even in acknowledged old stream beds but its different with solid chemical data which points to Martian life... Smile

Barsoomer


Posts: 344

Reply: 18



PostPosted: November 1, 2012 3:38 PM 

[link]

Quote from Emily Lakdawalla blog:

"Don't get your hopes too high for tomorrow's briefing .... The most exciting result would be a definitive positive detection, but it's quite possible they may not have anything much at all to say about methane."

Barsoomer


Posts: 344

Reply: 19



PostPosted: November 2, 2012 3:07 PM 

[link]

The above links to the slides shown at the telecon. I had to miss the telecon but reports on UMSF suggest no "confirmed" methane detection as yet, which according to a response to a question indicates an upper bound of about 6 parts per billion on what might be present.

Barsoomer


Posts: 344

Reply: 20



PostPosted: November 3, 2012 1:28 AM 

I listened to the recording of the telecon. Reading between the lines, it looks as though they see a weak methane signal, a few parts per billion, but they are not willing to call it since it lies within their error bars at the 95% confidence level.

The Mumma detection was about 60 parts per billion, but was a decade ago and on the other side of Mars. Since then the Earth-based observations have indicated a complete vanishing of the Earth-detectable signal in later measurements.

The MSL team expect to increase the sensitivity of the TLS, possibly eventually reaching a precision of 0.1 parts per billion so we can hope for a positive confirmation in the future, and there could also be variations seen over time.

In other results the CO2 isotope ratios match very closely those in trapped gasses in one of the Mars meteorites and suggest that Mars may have lost roughly half of its inventory of CO2 (including the known frozen and subsurface deposits).

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