A mysterious "belch" of methane gas was detected on Mars last month by NASA's Curiosity rover, says CSM's Pete Spotts. Scientists are unclear as to what caused this noticeable pulse, which lasted six weeks before levels were stabilized. It's entirely possible that the methane is biological in nature. Combined with the discovery of organic materials in the soil, Curiosity's methane discovery represents a major step forward for NASA:
"'This is a great moment for the mission,'" said [lead scientist Dr. John Grotzinger], adding later that Mars exploration is turning a corner. It is leaving behind the 'Star Trek mode' where researchers build a spacecraft 'to go out there and find something no one's found before,' he said. Now, Mars exploration is about testing specific ideas about the planet by exploring a range of possibilities."
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