News & Opinion | June 24, 2019 12:04 pm

NASA Rover on Mars May Have Found Evidence of Life

Methane is a gas that, on Earth, is produced by living things

Methane gas on Mars
Is there life on Mars after all? (Getty Images)

Mars appears to be burping up signs of life.

A NASA Rover exploring the surface of our red neighbor in the solar system discovered shockingly high levels of methane, a gas that, on Earth, is produced by living things, as The New York Times explained. The news hasn’t yet been officially announced by NASA, but scientists are excited about the implications.

In an email to his team that was obtained by the Times, mission scientist Ashwin R. Vasvada wrote, “Given this surprising result, we’ve reorganized the weekend to run a follow-up experiment.”

The discovery of methane is promising, because it clearly indicates recent activity. Had there been any methane released in the distant past, the molecules would be long gone by now.

Before we jump to conclusions, though, the Times did note that the presence of methane could also come from geothermal reactions “devoid of biology.”

“To maintain scientific integrity, the project science team will continue to analyze the data before confirming results,” a NASA spokesperson said.

This also isn’t the first time methane was said to have been found on Mars. About 15 years ago, an orbiting spaceship called the Mars Express detected what it thought might be the gas, but it could never be properly verified and, as a result, was dismissed.

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