Reply Sun 18 Jan, 2009 01:32 pm
Ice, methane gas - ? Whatta ya thin, Babbalooey?

Scientists have found more evidence of possible life on Mars.
NASA announced Thursday that its researchers and university scientists found methane in the Red Planet's atmosphere. The finding suggests biological or geological activity.

NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility and the W.M. Keck telescope showed prisms that separate white light into a rainbow and showed three lines that indicate the presence of methane.

"Methane is quickly destroyed in the Martian atmosphere in a variety of ways, so our discovery of substantial plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars in 2003 indicates some ongoing process is releasing the gas," Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement.

Mumma, who authored a paper on the finding for Science Express, said that Mars releases methane "at a rate comparable to that of the massive hydrocarbon seep at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara, Calif." during its northern midsummer."

Methane is the main component of natural gas. Most of the Earth's methane comes from living organisms as they digest nutrients. However, other events, like iron oxidation, can also cause release of the gas.

"Right now, we do not have enough information to tell whether biology or geology -- or both -- is producing the methane on Mars," Mumma explained. "But it does tell us the planet is still alive, at least in a geologic sense. It is as if Mars is challenging us, saying, 'Hey, find out what this means.' "

NASA said that if microscopic organisms produce methane, they are likely far below the surface, where it's warm enough for water to remain in a liquid state. Water, carbon, and energy sources are necessary for all known forms of life.

"On Earth, microorganisms thrive about 1.2 to 1.9 miles beneath the Witwatersrand basin of South Africa, where natural radioactivity splits water molecules into molecular hydrogen and oxygen," Mumma said. "The organisms use the hydrogen for energy. It might 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."

He said that methane could accumulate in similar underground areas before escaping into the atmosphere through pores or fissures that open during warm seasons.

The team said it found methane over the northern hemisphere of Mars, where there's evidence of ancient ground ice or flowing water.

More research is needed to determine whether the methane came from biological or geological sources.






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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 4,394 • Replies: 12
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 Jan, 2009 01:40 pm
@edgarblythe,
I saw this too. Interesting indeed. I can't wait to see what happens next!
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 Jan, 2009 07:36 pm
We might be a few billion years too early, since it takes awhile for bacteria to evolve into intelligent life.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 Jan, 2009 07:44 pm
@Foofie,
I don't think anybody expects life to evolve that much on Mars, foofie.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 Jan, 2009 07:45 pm
No magnetic field . . . for life to evolve on Mars, it would almost certainly have to live beneath the surface.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 Jan, 2009 08:00 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

I don't think anybody expects life to evolve that much on Mars, foofie.


Well, after a few billion years, we will see!
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 Jan, 2009 08:23 pm
@Foofie,
Foofie wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

I don't think anybody expects life to evolve that much on Mars, foofie.


Well, after a few billion years, we will see!


Want to bet a six pack of Lone Star beer?
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 Jan, 2009 08:32 pm
@Foofie,
I don't believe anyone has said anything about intelligent life, merely life.

The late Isaac Asimov says somewhere or other that most of the methane found in the earth's atmosphere comes from cow farts. For some reason that little tidbit has always stayed with me.
0 Replies
 
NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2009 12:39 am
There's also methane on Enceladus, Triton, Titan, Io, Europa and the Neptune moon (I forgot the name) and Even Saturn. I suspect we will be finding life to be abundant in the solar system. And it farts a lot.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2009 01:36 am
If it does indicate life, it might indicate past life, from before Mars lost its atmosphere.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2009 06:30 am
@NickFun,
Iapetus . . .

However, Iapetus is a moon of Saturn. You've already named the largest satellite of Neptune, which is Triton.
0 Replies
 
NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jan, 2009 01:17 pm
@Brandon9000,
Doubtful Brandon. Methane dissipates quickly in the Martian atmosphere. Any methane we see has to be of very recent origin, witin the last 200 or so years. Mor than likely it's current and active life.
0 Replies
 
hater
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Jul, 2013 10:36 pm
@edgarblythe,
life is physically impossible on mars. first there is no air. you cant breathe without air. next its frozen harder than stone. third there is no water anywhere on the planet. next nothing can grow on the radiation soaked surface of that garbage dump of a planet.

your evidence is laughable
0 Replies
 
 

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