Mars Rover Not Detecting Methane in Atmosphere

Could be a precursor to life


Mars rover Curiosity has taken a whiff of the wind at Rocknest in the Gale Crater—but the Red Planet hasn't been passing the gas the nuclear-powered tank is looking for.

The rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments have been sniffing for methane gas because the chemical is a simple precursor to life. On Earth, it's produced by burping and farting cows (also humans), natural gas fields and other things. SAM's preliminary results show little to no methane in the atmosphere after boffins studied the most sensitive measurements they have ever been able to take on the planet.