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Mars rover finds no sign of methane, telltale sign of life

Published on Sep 20, 2013 9:01 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (REUTERS) - National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (Nasa) Mars rover Curiosity has come up empty-handed in its search for methane in the planet's atmosphere, a gas that on Earth is a strong indicator of life, officials said on Thursday.

The rover landed on Mars in August 2012 to determine whether the planet most like Earth in the solar system has or ever had the chemistry and conditions to support microbial life.

Over the past decade, scientists using Mars orbiters and telescopes on Earth have reported plumes of methane in the Martian atmosphere.

The gas breaks down in sunlight, so its presence on Mars indicated that either biological activity or a recent geologic event was responsible for its release.

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