NASA’s Curiosity Rover has discovered that Mars is emitting methane gas — lots of it — and that could be a sign that life is thriving somewhere in the Red Planet, a report on Saturday said.
The startling readings arrived back on Earth on Thursday, and have sent scientists scrambling for corroborating evidence of subterranean Martian life, the New York Times reported.
“Given this surprising result, we’ve reorganized the weekend to run a follow-up experiment,” project scientist Ashwni R. Vasavada said in an internal email obtained by the outlet.
It is possible that the methane is a result of geothermal reactions that have nothing to do with living organisms.
But it’s also possible that the gas was produced millions of years ago by now-extinct life, the outlet reported.
Still, the readings 21 parts per billion– are the highest methane concentrations detected by Curiosity yet, three times a spike detected in 2013.
The rover has been sniffing around Mars since landing in 2012.