UFO Buster Radio News – 319: Stinky Aliens And Curiosity Methane Mission
PROOF of alien life will come with the discovery of planets rich in an incredibly noxious and foul-smelling gas known as phosphine, astrobiologists have announced.
MIT researchers have proposed in a recently published study simple organisms are responsible for the production of phosphine.
On Earth, phosphine is one of the most toxic and repulsing gases known to man.
Sometimes dubbed “swamp gas”, phosphine is typically found in incredibly unpleasant locations such as foul marshes and heaps of penguin dung.
But on planets far outside of the solar system, alien bacteria that do not require oxygen to thrive could be churning out the gas.
Clara Sousa-Silva from MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences is certain rocky exoplanets that have phosphine in their atmosphere are home to alien life.
The molecular astrobiologist argued astronomers now need to consider new and bizarre scenarios if we are to find alien life one day.
Dr Sousa-Silva, who led the phosphine study, said: “Here on Earth, oxygen is a really impressive sign of life. But other things besides life make oxygen too.
“It’s important to consider stranger molecules that might not be made as often, but if you do find them on another planet, there’s only one explanation.”
Methane Mystery on Mars May Get a Partial Answer Soon
SAN FRANCISCO — NASA’s Curiosity rover may have just taken a big step toward cracking at least part of the Mars methane mystery.
Curiosity’s measurements show that methane levels cycle seasonally inside the Red Planet’s 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater, which the rover has been exploring since August 2012. The six-wheeled robot has also detected several big surges of the gas, which is a possible (though far from definitive) sign of Mars life.
But here’s where the mystery comes in: The view from above is very different. The European-Russian Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which was designed to sniff out low-abundance gases such as methane, has found the Martian air to be virtually free of the stuff.
Perhaps something in the Martian atmosphere destroys methane very quickly, scrubbing away most of the gas that rises above Curiosity and therefore leaving little for TGO or Mars Express to detect, said Vasavada, who’s based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. But that’s not the only possible explanation.
“Maybe the expansion and contraction of the atmosphere every day from solar heating is responsible,” he told Space.com after the roundtable.
Curiosity’s previous methane measurements — which the rover makes using its Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, or SAM — have been gathered at night, Vasavada said. That’s not surprising, considering how busy the rover is during the day studying rocks in minute detail and/or driving across the rugged Red Planet landscape. But it means that Curiosity had sniffed only when the atmosphere was relatively dense and the methane concentrated as a result.
During the day, as the atmosphere expands, the methane becomes more mixed and diffuse — perhaps diffuse enough to explain, at least in part, why the orbiters’ observations are so different.
“This rare experiment is a chance to get some exciting science observations, but we’ll need time after the experiment to analyze the data; we don’t expect to have any takeaways right away,” science team member Catherine O’Connell, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, wrote in a mission update on Friday (Dec. 13).
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