Planets and Moons  ID: 3574

Methane Plume on Mars

The first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars indicates the planet is alive in the sense that it still has geologic activity powered by heat from its interior, according to a team of NASA and university scientists.

The team used spectrometer instruments attached to several telescopes to detect plumes of methane that were emitted from specific sites during the warmer seasons - spring and summer.

Though nothing conclusive can yet be determined, it is possible that the detected methane was either produced by geologic processes such as the oxidation of iron (serpentinization) or by microscopic Martian life below the planet's surface. The methane released today could be produced currently, or it could be ancient methane trapped in ice 'cages' called clathrates or as gas below a sub-surface ice layer.

 

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For More Information

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/news/marsmethane.html


Visualization Credits

Trent L. Schindler (UMBC): Lead Animator
Chris Smith (UMBC): Producer
Andrew Freeberg (NASA/GSFC): Producer
Michael Mumma (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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This item is part of this series:
Mars Methane

Goddard TV Tape:
G2008-154 -- SDO Interviews

Keywords:
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Mars
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Atmospheric Chemistry/Carbon and Hydrocarbon Compounds >> Methane
SVS >> For Educators
SVS >> Solar System >> Planets >> Mars >> Ionosphere
SVS >> Solar System >> Planets >> Mars >> Geologic Activity
SVS >> Solar System >> Planets >> Mars >> Methane
SVS >> Solar System >> Planets >> Mars >> Atmosphere
SVS >> Solar System >> Planets >> Mars >> Seasons
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0