Scientists calculate Mars methane release


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A new model describing how warmer weather could cause the seasonal spikes of methane on Mars matches the data from Curiosity in Gale Crater.

Moores and his colleagues analysed how methane might seep upwards through cracks and fissures in the Martian soil until it enters the atmosphere. Warming the soil could allow the gas to leak into the air, their calculations show. Seasons on Mars are complex, especially at Curiosity’s location so close to the planet’s equator. But the highest methane levels do appear just after the warmest time of the year, suggesting that heat spreading downward allows more of the gas to be released.

The amount of gas that the scientists estimate is entering the atmosphere is a good match for the measurements Curiosity has made at Gale crater, Moores told the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee. The methane’s ultimate source is still a mystery. But the work could help to explain the gas’s seasonal ebb and flow, he said. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted sentence is the most important. All they have done is found that they can model the pattern of seasonal release. They still have no idea whether the methane comes from a geological or biological source, which is of course the real question.

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