Martian Life Exposed

Do Martians really exist? Discover the secrets of life on Mars

The True Meaning of Life on Mars

The Martain Methane Reveals the Red Planet isn't a Dead Planet

methane concentrations on Mars This image shows concentrations of Methane found on Mars. Credit: NASA
Mars today is a planet of solitary|solitary and cold} deserts, seemingly without life of any type, at least on the surface.appears like Mars has been cold and dry for billions of years, with an atmosphere so thin, any liquid water on the surface quickly boils away while earth|the ground is scorched by the sun's ultraviolet radiation|the earth scorches|the ultraviolet radiation of the sun scorches the ground}.|}

But there is evidence of a warmer and wetter {past|a history that is warmer and wetter} -- features resembling dry riverbeds and minerals that form in the existence of water suggest water flowed through The Martain sands. kinds of life, scientists wonder if life might have risen on Mars, and if it did, what became of it as the The Martain climate changed|Since liquid water is required for all known kinds of life, scientists wonder if life could have risen on Mars, as the The Martain climate changed, and when it did, what became of it|Since liquid water is required for all known types of life, scientists wonder if life might have risen on Mars, as the The Martain climate changed and if it did, what became of it}.

New research shows there is expectation for Mars however. The very first definitive detection of methane in Mars' atmosphere signals the planet continues to be alive, in either a biologic or geologic sense, according to a team of NASA and university scientists.

"Methane is {quickly ruined in the Martain atmosphere in various manners, so our discovery of considerable plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars in 2003 signifies some continuing procedure is releasing the gas," said Dr. Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.|}mid summer, methane is released at a speed comparable to that of the massive hydrocarbon seep at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara, Calif."|}

notion of potential Mars methane source Scientists do not yet understand enough to say with conviction what the source of the Martain methane is, but this artist's concept depicts a possibility|This artist's concept depicts a possibility, although artist notion of possible Mars methane source Scientists don't yet know enough to say with certainty what the source of the The Martain methane is}. In this illustration, as well as the planet's internal heat|the planet's internal heat, carbon dioxide and also subsurface water|carbon dioxide, subsurface water as well as the planet's internal heat|carbon dioxide subsurface water and the planet's internal heat} join to release methane. Although we don't have evidence on Mars of active volcanoes today, historical methane trapped in ice "cages" might now be released. Credit: NASA/Susan Twardy
> {Larger image Methane -- four atoms of hydrogen bound to a carbon atom -- is the main component of natural gas on Earth.|} It's of interest to astrobiologists as they digest nutrients, because organisms release much of Earth's methane. Yet, other just geological processes, like oxidation of iron release methane. "{Right now, we do not have enough information to tell if biology or geology -- or both -- is creating the methane on Mars," said Mumma.|} "But it does tell us that the planet is still alive, at least in a geologic sense. It is as if Mars is challenging astrobiologists, saying, hey, figure out what this means." Mumma is lead author of a paper on this research appearing in Science Express Jan. 15.

If {microscopic The Martain life is creating the methane, it likely resides far below the surface, where it is still warm enough for liquid water to exist|If the methane is being produced by infinitesimal The Martain life, it likely lives far below the surface, where it's still warm enough for liquid water|If the methane is being produced by minute The Martain life, it likely dwells far below the surface, where it is still not cool enough for liquid water to exist|If minute The Martain life is creating the methane, it likely lives far below the surface, where it is still not cool enough for liquid water}. Liquid water, as well as and also a supply of carbon|a supply of carbon as well as energy sources}, are crucial for all known kinds of life.

two to three kilometers (about 1.2 to 1.9 miles) beneath the Witwatersrand basin of South Africa, where natural radioactivity splits water molecules into molecular hydrogen (H2) and oxygen.|} The organisms utilize the hydrogen for energy.may be possible for similar organisms to survive for billions of years below the permafrost layer on Mars, where water is liquid, radiation supplies energy, and carbon dioxide provides carbon," said Mumma.|}

amassed in such underground zones might be released into the atmosphere if pores or fissures open during the warm seasons, joining the deep zones to the atmosphere at crater walls or canyons," said Mumma.

|}"Microbes that created methane from hydrogen and carbon dioxide were among the first kinds of life on Earth," noted Dr. Carl Pilcher, Manager of the NASA Astrobiology Institute which partially supported the research. "If life ever existed on Mars, it is realistic to think that its metabolism might have entailed making methane from The Martain atmospheric carbon dioxide."

However, it is possible a geologic process created the Martain {methane, either now|either now the Martain methane|either now, the Martain methane} or eons past. On Earth, the conversion of iron oxide (rust) into the serpentine group of minerals creates methane, and on Mars this process could proceed using and also the planet's internal heat|the planet's internal heat, carbon dioxide, and water|carbon dioxide, water, as well as the planet's internal heat|carbon dioxide, water, and the internal heat of the planet}. Although we don't have evidence on Mars of active volcanoes today, early methane trapped in ice "cages" called clathrates might now be released.

The team found methane in the atmosphere of Mars by {carefully observing the planet over several Mars years (and all The Martain seasons) with NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility, run by the University of Hawaii, along with the W. M. Keck telescope, both at Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

|}devices attached to the telescopes to make the discovery|Spectrometer devices attached to the telescopes to create the discovery were used by the team}. Spectrometers disperse light into its component colours, like a prism splits white light into a rainbow. The team looked for dark regions in particular locations along the rainbow (light spectrum) where methane was absorbing {sunlight reflected from the The Martain surface|sun reflected from the The Martain surface was being absorbed by methane}. They found three such areas, called absorption lines, which collectively are a definitive signature of methane, according to the team. They could discern lines the planet's atmosphere|from the methane in Earth's atmosphere from The Martain methane|from The Martain methane from the methane in the atmosphere of Earth's|from the methane in the atmosphere of Earth's from The Martain methane} since movement of the Red Planet|the Red Planet's motion} shifted the place of the The Martain lines, much as alter pitch as it passes by|a speeding ambulance causes its siren as it passes by, to modify pitch|a speeding ambulance's siren to change pitch as it passes by is caused by it|a speeding ambulance's siren as it passes by, to alter pitch is caused by it}.

detected and mapped multiple plumes of methane on Mars, one of which released about 19,000 metric tons of methane," said Dr. Geronimo Villanueva of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Villanueva is stationed at NASA Goddard and is co author of the paper.|} "The plumes were emitted during the warmer seasons -- spring and summer -- {perhaps because the permafrost blocking cracks and fissures vaporized, allowing methane to seep into the The Martain air.|} Oddly, some plumes had water vapor while others did not," said Villanueva.

In line with the team, the plumes were seen over areas that demonstrate evidence of {ancient ground ice or flowing water|running water or early ground ice|early ground ice or water that was flowing|water that was running or ancient earth ice}. For instance, plumes appeared over northern hemisphere regions such as east of and also the southeast quadrant of Syrtis Major|the south east quadrant of Syrtis Major, the Nili Fossae region, and Arabia Terra|the Nili Fossae region, Arabia Terra, as well as the south-east quadrant of Syrtis Major|the Nili Fossae region Arabia Terra, and also the south-east quadrant of Syrtis Major}, an early volcano 1,200 kilometers (about 745 miles) .

{It will require future missions|Future assignments will be taken by it}, like the Mars Science Laboratory of NASA, to discover the origin of the The Martain methane. One method to tell if life is the origin of the gas is by measuring isotope ratios. Isotopes are heftier versions of instance,|an element} deuterium is a heftier variant of hydrogen. In molecules which contain hydrogen, like methane and water, sometimes replaces a hydrogen atom|a hydrogen atom is occasionally replaced by the rare deuterium|a hydrogen atom is occasionally replaced by the deuterium that is rare|the deuterium that is rare sometimes replaces a hydrogen atom}. favors to make use of the lighter isotopes, if the methane has less deuterium than the water released with it on Mars, it is an indicator that life is producing the methane|Since life prefers to work with the lighter isotopes, if the methane has less deuterium compared to the water released with it on Mars, it is a sign that the methane is being produced by life|Since life prefers to work with the lighter isotopes, if the methane has less deuterium in relation to the water released on Mars with it, it is an indicator that the methane is being produced by life}. The research was {funded by NASA's Planetary Astronomy Program as well as the NASA Astrobiology Institute|NASA's Planetary Astronomy Program as well as the NASA Astrobiology Institute funded the research}.