Almost everyone has heard that there was once water on Mars, but that doesn’t answer the question of whether or not there is or was life there. But new information from NASA’s Curiosity rover might help us get one step closer to an answer. Scientists found evidence of methane spikes on the red planet’s surface, which may have come from bacteria-like organisms. If so, it could be the first time humans have ever detected alien life.

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A temporary spike in methane is often an indication of a localized source, which could be biological or non-biological. According to readings taken by Curiosity, methane spiked from about .69 ppbv to 7.2 ppbv over a period of about 60 martian days in one area. That kind of activity is consistent with venting and, at least on Earth, is most often caused by biological sources.

Related: Mars Curiosity rover bolsters case for life on Mars with evidence of ancient lake

It’s unlikely that a comet or asteroid caused the spike, since this would have left a crater and none has been located. Nor does it appear to be from volcanic deposits or methane deposits being released from ice or the soil.

Scientists released their findings, cautioning that it is too early to jump to any fast conclusions, but it is promising information. ”Our measurements spanning a full Mars year indicate that trace quantities of methane are being generated on Mars by more than one mechanism or a combination of proposed mechanisms – including methanogenesis either today or released from past reservoirs, or both,” the researchers wrote in their report.

Via The Daily Mail

Images via NASA