Mars rover fails to find methane

Posted Dated : Wednesday September 25, 2013, 12:00:00

NASA’s Curiosity rover has come up empty-handed in its search for methane in the atmosphere of Mars, researchers report September 19 in Science.

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During eight months of data collection, the rover detected average methane concentrations of 0.18 parts per billion. The researchers say that, because of the measurement’s margin of error, the finding translates to essentially no methane in the Martian atmosphere.

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“It’s disappointing because [methane] is a potential sign of biological activity,” says study coauthor Christopher Webster, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.