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Mars' Methane Debate -- A Sign of Life or a Mirage?

posted Sep 11, 2012, 3:46 PM by M Stoltz
By DailyGalaxy.com, 09.11.12

Observations over the last decade suggest that methane clouds form briefly over Mars during the summer months. The discovery has left many scientists
scratching their heads, since it doesn't fit into models of the martian atmosphere. The image above shows a map of methane concentrations in Autumn (first martian year observed) overlayed on true color map of Mars. It's a  debate of long-standing that the Mars' 
Curiosity rover might soon answer.

"The reports are extraordinary," said Kevin Zahnle of NASA Ames Research Center. "They require methane to have a life time of days or weeks in the martian atmosphere, which disagrees with the known behavior of methane by at least a factor of 1000."
Zahnle and his colleagues have expressed some serious doubts about the existence of methane on Mars in a paper that appeared in December 2010 in the journal Icarus.  "What we say is that the evidence is not nearly strong enough for us to suspend our trust in the known chemical behavior of methane," he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

[Image: NASA]