A great deal of buzz is being generated over NASA's recent findings on the release of methane on Mars. The methane has been released during specific seasons and has been measured multiple times over the past decade. Methane (CH4) can be a product of either geological or biological processes. Though 90% of Earth's CH4 has biological origins. One of NASA's Goddard research scientists had the following comments:
"Methane is quickly destroyed in the Martian atmosphere in a variety of ways, so our discovery of substantial plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars in 2003 indicates some ongoing process is releasing the gas," said Dr. Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "At northern mid-summer, methane is released at a rate comparable to that of the massive hydrocarbon seep at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara, Calif."
The next step is sending a mission up to Mars to determine the origin of the releases. If it was microbes creating the gas then they would be several meters under the surface of the Red Planet and we would need the ability to drill this deep. Scientists are taking this into account and could possibly outfit the Mars Science Laboratory Rover with a drill to take some samples.
Either way something has to be going on to produce the methane and it will be very interesting to discover its source, whether biological, which could make this one of the greatest discoveries of our time, or just geological which would still change everything we thought we knew about our dusty neighbor.
Exciting stuff isn't it? I will keep you updated with anything that comes up, and what is being planned to dig up the answer to this mystery.
Here is an interesting video from NASA on the methane discovery
I hope you enjoyed it!
Quote of the day:
If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.