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Why is Methane Seeping on Mars? NASA Scientists Have New Ideas


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Why is Methane Seeping on Mars? NASA Scientists Have New Ideas


The most surprising revelation from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover — that methane is seeping from the surface of Gale Crater — has scientists scratching their heads.

Living creatures produce most of the methane on Earth. But scientists haven’t found convincing signs of current or ancient life on Mars, and thus didn’t expect to find methane there. Yet, the portable chemistry lab aboard Curiosity, known as SAM, or Sample Analysis at Mars, has continually sniffed out traces of the gas near the surface of Gale Crater, the only place on the surface of Mars where methane has been detected thus far. Its likely source, scientists assume, are geological mechanisms that involve water and rocks deep underground.

If that were the whole story, things would be easy. However, SAM has found that methane behaves in unexpected ways in Gale Crater.

Read More: ➡️ NASA

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Farting space cows.

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Methane seeps out during the night.  But it doesn't seep out during the day time.

During the day the methane becomes mixed into the atmosphere in undetectable levels. 

 The European Trace Gas Orbiter  isn't finding any methane in the atmosphere, which, if all other craters on Mars are also seeping out methane, it should.  Because Methane should still be in the atmosphere for 300 years before being torn apart by solar radiation.

Experiments are underway to test whether very low-level electric discharges induced by dust in the Martian atmosphere could destroy methane, or whether abundant oxygen at the Martian surface quickly destroys methane before it can reach the upper atmosphere.

“We need to determine whether there’s a faster destruction mechanism than normal to fully reconcile the data sets from the rover and the orbiter,” Webster said.

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