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Curiosity rover confirms source of seasonal methane spikes on Mars
UPI ^ | April 2, 2019 / 2:30 PM | By Brooks Hays

Posted on 04/02/2019 12:53:05 PM PDT by Red Badger

"Our results support the idea that methane release on Mars might be characterized by small, transient geological events," researcher Frank Daerden said.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express probe measured methane in the Martian atmosphere a day after NASA's Curiosity rover detected the gas in Gale Crater. Photo by ESA

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April 2 (UPI) -- Some 15 years ago, a European probe measured traces of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Now, NASA's Curiosity rover and the European Space Agency's Mars Express have confirmed the gas' presence in the air above Gale Crater.

"The presence of methane could enhance habitability and may even be a signature of life," researchers wrote in a new paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

On June 15, 2013, NASA's Curiosity rover picked up a methane spike measuring 6 parts per billion in air samples collected and analyzed inside Gale Crater. The next day, ESA's Mars Express probe captured air samples with a methane concentration of 15.5 parts per billion as it whizzed through the atmosphere above Gale Crater.

The independent confirmation by two spacecraft was a coincidence.

"We were very lucky, as this is not the result of coordinated observations," Marco Giuranna, lead author of the new Nature Geoscience paper and a planetary scientist at the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Rome, told Space.com. "Just by chance!"

To find the likely source of the methane, scientists used computer models to closely analyze the surface structures found in Gale Crater, as well as the surrounding region. Algorithms compared the various surface features to environs on Earth that are known to yield methane emissions.

On Earth, methane is typically a sign of life. But the new analysis suggests a frozen slab of ice or permafrost containing methane, located beneath tectonic faults outside of Gale Crater, is the most logical explanation for the Red Planet's seasonal methane spikes. Scientists estimate periodic melting causes the ice to release the compound in gas form.

At first, scientists thought the methane originated inside Gale Crater.

"Our new Mars Express data, taken one day after Curiosity's recording, change the interpretation of where the methane originated from, especially when considering global atmospheric circulation patterns together with the local geology," Giuranna said in an ESA news release. "Based on geological evidence and the amount of methane that we measured, we think that the source is unlikely to be located within the crater."

The conclusions of the computer simulations aren't definitive, and there is still a lot to learn about Mars' methane. Scientists still aren't sure how methane is removed from the atmosphere and becomes trapped in permafrost.

But the latest findings suggest scientists are getting closer to explaining the methane that Mars Express first measured 15 years ago.

"Our results support the idea that methane release on Mars might be characterized by small, transient geological events rather than a constantly replenishing global presence," said Frank Daerden, researcher at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Astronomy in Brussels.

Scientists expect to gain new insights into the nature of Mars' methane and other trace gases from data collected by ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a probe with an instrument suite designed to survey Mars' atmospheric makeup.


TOPICS: Astronomy; History; Outdoors; Science
KEYWORDS: exobiology; galecrater; gilbertlewin; mars; methane; panspermia; rover; thomasgold; xplanets
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1 posted on 04/02/2019 12:53:05 PM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

Fine, maybe the methane on Mars is not a sign of life, but Titan!!, There’s so much methane on Titan that there has to be life there.


2 posted on 04/02/2019 12:55:48 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Red Badger

Methane can be used as rocket fuel.


3 posted on 04/02/2019 12:58:49 PM PDT by Moonman62 (Facts are racist.)
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To: Red Badger
"I can't help that I like beans!"


4 posted on 04/02/2019 1:01:35 PM PDT by Yo-Yo ( is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: DannyTN

Whaddaya think - big herd of cows, maybe?


5 posted on 04/02/2019 1:07:02 PM PDT by Chainmail (A simple rule of life: if you can be blamed, you're responsible.)
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To: Yo-Yo

6 posted on 04/02/2019 1:09:51 PM PDT by z3n
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To: DannyTN

I read once that if we could get to Titan and back economically with all that natural gas, Earth would be powered for a thousand years.................


7 posted on 04/02/2019 1:12:51 PM PDT by Red Badger (We are headed for a Civil War. It won't be nice like the last one....................)
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To: Red Badger
Aliens...


8 posted on 04/02/2019 1:16:10 PM PDT by ImJustAnotherOkie (All I know is The I read in the papers.)
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To: Red Badger

Here’s methane in yur eye. Toast!


9 posted on 04/02/2019 1:25:23 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi - Monthly Donors Rock!!!)
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To: Red Badger

I’m hoping there’s no life on Mars. The wackos will want to prevent us from colonizing. Will call it imperialism.

And no. I am not kidding.


10 posted on 04/02/2019 1:29:45 PM PDT by samtheman (To steal an election, who do you collude with? Russians in Russia or Mexicans in California?)
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To: Red Badger

Mars cow flatulence? Get AOC on the case before Mars warms up.


11 posted on 04/02/2019 1:30:54 PM PDT by nuke_road_warrior (Making the world safe for nuclear power for over 20 years)
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To: samtheman

Grok that!................


12 posted on 04/02/2019 1:42:07 PM PDT by Red Badger (We are headed for a Civil War. It won't be nice like the last one....................)
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To: Red Badger
MARTIAN-METHANE-TRUCK
13 posted on 04/02/2019 2:01:24 PM PDT by FrankR (Did I mention that NO Russian collusion was found...NONE....?)
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To: Red Badger

I get methane spikes eating Mexican food.

Dave Barry once pointed out that Mexican food explains why most of Mexico is located outdoors.


14 posted on 04/02/2019 2:37:05 PM PDT by elcid1970 (My gun safe is saying, "Room for one more, honey!")
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To: elcid1970

Every taqueria has outdoor seating.................


15 posted on 04/02/2019 2:42:35 PM PDT by Red Badger (We are headed for a Civil War. It won't be nice like the last one....................)
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To: Red Badger

The Truth


16 posted on 04/02/2019 2:49:54 PM PDT by budj (combat vet, 2nd of 3 generations)
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To: Red Badger

Isnt methane light enough to escape mars gavitational pull? So no accumulation over time? The atmosphere is 95% or so of carbon dioxide...no global warming? No fossil fuels...no vegetation...where is CO2 from?


17 posted on 04/02/2019 2:51:24 PM PDT by Getready (Wisdom is more valuable than gold and diamonds, and harder to find.)
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To: Red Badger

Beneath the hurtling moons of Barsoom, there are many caverns.


18 posted on 04/02/2019 2:52:07 PM PDT by Jim Noble (Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2 = 4)
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To: samtheman

Too bad.

It’s a good joke.


19 posted on 04/02/2019 3:37:11 PM PDT by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit)
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To: Red Badger

“I read once that if we could get to Titan and back economically with all that natural gas, Earth would be powered for a thousand years.................”

We could run a pipeline. Of course the EPA would have to sign off on environmental issues.... ..


20 posted on 04/02/2019 3:37:29 PM PDT by snoringbear (,W,E.oGovernment is the Pimp,)
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