Saturday, January 17, 2009

Martian Methane

NASA has been studying huge "flumes" of methane, some covering an area roughly that of the continental United States, which escaped from the crust of Mars and disappeared. They can explain the 'disappearance': a chemical reaction in the atmosphere neutralizes the gas, but there are still questions about the origin of the methane.

Of course, the hope is that there is or was life on Mars. In our own deep crust there are examples of microbial life that do not rely on solar energy or oxygen to grow and multiply. Of course, there are also inorganic methods of creating Methane as well, involving water transforming olivine into serpentine. Either way, how we think about Mars is changing: NASA says the model of Mars as a crypt planet, an unchanging block of rock, is done for.

With the discovery of large equatorial glaciers, and now methane gas in abundance, Mars is looking better all the time.

(Thank You NASA for the website and image, which shows the detected Methane in red)