Where’d the Martian Methane Come From? Is it Alive?


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 01 October 2018

ASTROPHYSICS, SPACE, SCIENCE, & SUCH

Where’d the Martian Methane Come From? Is it Alive?

Interpreting new findings of methane on Mars,
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News, September 26, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

LIFE?
“New data from the Mars Science Laboratory demonstrating the presence of methane presents novel challenges to explain how it was formed and what it suggests about the potential for life to exist or be supported on Mars.”

“...data have revealed a baseline level of CH4 (∼0.4 parts per billion by volume [ppbv]), with seasonal variations, as well as greatly enhanced spikes of CH4 with peak abundances of ∼7 ppbv.”

“...represent in terms of interior geochemical processes, or is martian CH4 a biosignature?”

The Bottom Line

Future missions must be designed to discern the sources of methane on Mars.

Only Questions
“The researchers present a series of recommendations for future studies and Mars exploration programs, including those that can advance our understanding of the potential for life and habitability on Mars, further clarify the chemical reactions and energy sources in the Martian atmosphere and on the Martian surface and subsurface, and add to our knowledge of the sources of methane on Mars.”

 

Intriguing Clues
Well, they've found lakes of liquid water, "extreme," water, but liquid water nonetheless. Now they've found methane, one of the classic, "signatures," of life itself. Stay tuned! Is there a layer of, "microbe madness," a sweet spot," in the shifting sands of Mars harboring life?

I would not be surprised. Having liquid water present, with potential chemical energy resources in the sands, along with protection from the ionizing solar radiation tearing through the thin Martian atmosphere, could have created a foothold for life, or maintained one from an earlier, more hospitable period of Mar's early history.

More probes! I want more probes!

 

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