“I was absolutely shocked when the European team announced that they were not seeing methane,” explained Chris Webster of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
THE THEORY OF BEING INVISIBLE
Scientists who came up with many ideas to solve this mystery, finally put forward the theory that gas emanates from near-surface methane pools during calm nights, and this gas disperses and becomes “invisible” during the day.
Because the scientific device called TLS, mounted on Curiosity and detecting methane gas, needed a lot of energy and was working at night to avoid conflict with the others. Europe’s orbiter made its detections during the day to take advantage of sunlight.
To test this theory, the Curiosity team decided to measure methane gas during the daytime. Measurements showed that the gas detected at night was indeed lost during the day.
In other words, the methane released from the Martian craters had to accumulate enough in the atmosphere to enter the frame of the orbiter, but this accumulation did not occur.
The findings, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, have solved an important part of the puzzle. But this raised a new question: What destroys methane during the day?
Scientists are now trying to find the answer to this question. “A faster-than-normal destruction mechanism is required to reconcile datasets from the lander and orbiter,” Webster said.
We need to determine if such a mechanism exists. Until then, Martian methane will remain an enigma. The Independent