Something is recycling the methane on Mars


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Research results posted today [pdf] at the European Planetary Science Congress show that the methane in Mars’s atmosphere is seasonally variable and far more short-lived than predicted, disappearing in less than a year. Some process, therefore, must be both using it and replenishing it. On Earth, that’s almost always done by some form of life process. Key quote by one of the scientists, from the press release:

“Only small amounts of methane are present in the martian atmosphere, coming from very localised sources. We’ve looked at changes in concentrations of the gas and found that there are seasonal and also annual variations. The source of the methane could be geological activity or it could be biological ­ we can’t tell at this point.”

The image below shows the three regions (in yellow) where the methane is concentrated.

Mars methane locations

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