Illustration of orbital probe ExoMars leaving Earth. Credit: ESA
ESA's trace Gas Orbiter probe initiated its search mission for traces of biologically produced methane on Mars. The spacecraft, which reached a stable orbit at the beginning of the month of April (2018), is now actively seeking for traces of methane in an attempt to determine whether or not life is on Mars.
According to scientists, an answer to the mystery can come within just a few months.
Mark McCaughrean of ESA said:
However, if we find it mixed with gases like sulfur dioxide, it will suggest that its source is geological, not biological. In addition, biologically generated methane tends to contain lighter isotopes of the carbon element than methane that is geologically generated.