Methane on Mars produced and destroyed far faster than on Earth

The origin of methane on Mars “could either be life or geological activity – including volcanism,” says this 2009 article on BBC.


Curiosity Mars Rover

When Paris scientists Franck Lefevre and Francois Forget used a computer model of the Martian climate to reconstruct observations made on Earth, their model showed that the gas is unevenly distributed in the Martian atmosphere and changes with the seasons.

“The current chemistry as we know it is not consistent with the measurements of methane on Mars,” says Dr Lefevre, of the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie. “There is something else going on, something that lowers the methane lifetime by a factor of 600.”

If there is a much faster loss for methane on Mars, says Dr LeFevre, there must also be a much stronger production of methane.

In 2003, an American team used three different ground-based telescopes to monitor about 90% of Mar’s surface. The team identified “plumes” of methane. At one point, the primary plume contained an estimated 19,000 tonnes of the gas.

It is vital to understand how so much methane is produced and destroyed so quickly on the Red Planet, says Dr Michael Mumma, director of Nasa’s Goddard Center for Astrobiology.

Dr Mumma does not rule out a biological explanation for the phenomenon but says it is possible that geology alone could be responsible.

See entire article:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8186314.stm
Thanks to Siligy for this link

So where does that methane come from? Not from humans, that’s for sure. And not rotting vegetation.

To paraphrase the late Dr. Thomas Gold of Cornell, I am sure that there are no big stagnant swamps on Mars.


1 thought on “Methane on Mars produced and destroyed far faster than on Earth

  1. Thanks Robert.
    I wonder how much of this growth (see below) could be hydrocarbon formation from neutrino bombardment etc and also how the changing atmosphere of Mars would be altered by the magnetic field growing. Also wonder if Mars once had more of an atmosphere in the past which was blown away by big solar events in history. If the magnetic fields there are slowly getting stronger again and life begins to turn the hydrocarbons into oxygen and water, would the conductivity of water allow the magnetic field to become strong enough for Mars to hold and protect an atmosphere more like earth? Conductivity is not magnetism but will allow the tidal movement of water to generate an electron flow that creates a field at right angles to it. The high iron content of the dust would allow rapid ocean fertilisation if there was an ocean.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TzX7Ou1anM
    Here the idea that the Atmosphere of Mars may be growing:
    http://www.2012.com.au/Planets_changing.html
    More info:
    http://bourabai.kz/dmitriev/

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