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January 15, 2009

Seasonal Methane on Mars a Sign of Life?

by at 12:48 pm.

Oh, so very awesomely cool

NASA and Science magazine will announce Thursday afternoon that large amounts of methane have been found on the Red Planet, which could be a sign of biological activity.

“The most obvious source of methane is organisms,” planetary scientist Colin Pillinger told London’s Sun tabloid. “So if you find methane in an atmosphere, you can suspect there is life. It’s not proof, but it makes it worth a much closer look.”

On Earth, methane comes mainly from belching animals such as cows and rotting organic matter such as dead leaves. But it’s also pumped out by volcanoes.

The catch is that it breaks down quickly in the atmosphere due to reactions with sunlight, and there haven’t been any active volcanoes on Mars for millions of years.

The article cites that scientists don’t know if this is just a byproduct of a Martian planetary process we’ve yet to understand, but this ups the chances that there might be life on Mars - existing right now, as opposed to long gone! And if there’s life on Mars, however primitive or arrested due to its atmospheric loss, it means that developing life, as it happened on Earth, is not unique, and is in fact potentially common throughout the universe and its planetary systems.

Take that, creationists!

3 Responses to “Seasonal Methane on Mars a Sign of Life?”

  1. Shawn Says:

    Ummm..

    If asteroids hitting Mars can cause pieces of Mars to land here (scientists have found mars rocks).. then the reverse is also true.

    Does make for a fun question though.

  2. Tom Says:

    Shawn,
    The reverse is quite unlikely. Mars is further from the sun than Earth. The suns gravity would be a factor in pulling Mars fragments into Earths orbit. It’s unlikely that Earth fragments would move outward from the sun far enough to be intercepted by Mars.

  3. Shawn Says:

    All depends on the force and direction of the impact… everything is possible.. even global warming. But is is probable, thats the question.

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