Just the Facts
Here’s what we know: The ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) reached its orbit around Mars in 2016, when it began its mission to monitor and analyze the Red Planet’s atmosphere. Though scientists expected the TGO’s extremely sensitive sensors to pick up on atmospheric methane, it has yet to detect any at all.
The orbiter is capable of detecting trace amounts of methane — concentrations as low as 50 parts per trillion — at any elevation in Mars’ atmosphere. And yet it came back with bupkis.
However, the scientists working on the project concede that these are preliminary results. There’s still plenty of noise to clean out of the data and more analysis to be done.
These preliminary findings demonstrate a classic example of how the absence of evidence is not the same as the evidence of absence. It is far too soon to throw out all of the evidence for Martian methane. The scientists behind this TGO research are confident that the orbiter’s sensors are working correctly and that NASA and the ESA’s previous methane findings couldn’t all be incorrect, according to Universe Today.