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Whiff of Martian methane offers lively possibilities

By Ron Cowen
February 10th, 2009

Life is a gas on the Red Planet, possibly thanks to below-surface bacteria.

No one is suggesting that Mars has flatulent cows, but a new study shows that the Red Planet, like Earth, spews methane. Researchers say it’s possible that the gas could be generated by bacteria living beneath the Martian surface.

The methane emissions, observed over three Mars years (seven Earth years), come from three distinct locations and vary with the seasons — strongest in Martian summer and weakest in winter, Mike Mumma of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and his colleagues report online January 15 in Science.

Methane is known to be a fragile compound, and the observed variations in its concentration indicate that the methane in the Martian atmosphere lasts for less than one Earth year and is constantly being replenished, says Mumma


Added: Feb-10-2009 Occurred On: Feb-10-2009
By: wrano
Other, Arts and Entertainment
Tags: Extraterrestrial Life, Mars, Methane, Biology, Space, Astronomy
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