Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Methane doesn’t necessarily mean life on Mars

08.06.2005


Two Dartmouth researchers have weighed in on the debate over whether the presence of methane gas on Mars indicates life on the red planet. Mukul Sharma, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences, and Chris Oze, a postdoctoral fellow, argue that the Martian methane could have been produced by inorganic processes just as easily as by bacteria.



In their paper published online in May in the American Geophysical Union’s journal, Geophysical Research Letters, Sharma and Oze describe how methane on Mars can be made from abiotic, or non-living, sources. When water containing dissolved carbon dioxide comes in contact with olivine, it produces hydrogen, which then combines with carbon dioxide to produce methane. The authors contend that olivine is abundant on Mars at shallow depths, and it could easily react with fluids just beneath the surface.

"Most methane on Earth is produced by bacteria, and methane has been cited as an indicator of life on other planets," explains Sharma. "However, we show in our paper that the mineral olivine can be altered in the presence of water and carbon dioxide, which can produce copious quantities of methane. It’s quite easy to do, and there is nothing bacterial about it. If there is life on Mars, I would like to see better evidence than methane."


The paper also provides a plausible explanation for a warmer and wetter early Mars. Recent results from rover missions on Mars have pointed to the presence of flowing water on the planet’s surface. It is, however, impossible to heat the planet’s surface to above freezing temperatures by greenhouse action of carbon dioxide alone. The authors estimate that the abiotic creation of methane via the altered olivine was very efficient due to a higher surface heat flow and more intense hydrothermal circulation. Sharma and Oze say that methane, a very effective greenhouse gas, would have been more abundant in the atmosphere resulting in a climate that was warm enough to allow liquid water to be present on the Martian surface.

Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.Dartmouth.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>