Methane does exist in the Martian atmosphere


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The uncertainty of science: Curiosity has confirmed the presence, and fluctuation, of methane in the local Martian atmosphere.

SAM [Sample Analysis at Mars, one of Curiosity’s instruments] has been detecting basal levels of methane concentration of around 0,7 ppbv, and has confirmed an event of episodic increase of up to ten times this value during a period of sixty soles (Martian days), i.e., of about 7 ppvb. The new data are based on observations during almost one Martian year (almost two Earth years), included in the initial prediction for the duration of the mission (nominal mission), during which Curiosity has surveyed about 8 kms in the basin of the Gale crater.

Since methane has a short life expectancy, something must be doing something to generate it.

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3 comments

  • D.K. Williams

    What is the freezing point of methane? Could temperature flux be causing this?

  • Max

    Something must be making methane? If there was plant life, there would be oxygen, and the oxygen would react with methane to form carbon dioxide and water.
    Other than the oxidized red soil, I see no free oxygen on Mars to break down the methane so it should stick around forever. As for what made it? The sun makes plenty of methane and blast it out to space with every flare pushed along by the solar wind. (methane is the blue spectra in the Aurora Borealis and is the major cause for the ozone hole every September when the spring sun returns to Antarctica)
    The Martian atmosphere is only 7 Millibars of pressure. (The equivalent of 100,000 feet up in Earth’s atmosphere) and is mostly made of carbon dioxide.
    What little methane makes it to the surface most likely freezes in places where the sun doesn’t touch.
    To give you an idea how little 7 ppb is, imagine finding 100 stacks of large suitcases, each stack having 10 suitcases reaching over your head. You pull one suitcase down and open it, and inside there is 100 stacks of 100 Dollar bills 100 bills high! (1 million) You take only one $100 Dollar bill, and you make change and put back $93 dollars… What you have in your hand now is seven dollars out of 1 billion. 7 parts Per billion. It is simply amazing that anything could measure something so small.

  • Darwin Teague

    No cows passing gas and stinking up the place.

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