New Device Could Solve Mars Methane Mystery

Europe Extends Missions to Mars, Venus and Earth
The Mars Express spacecraft (shown here in an artist's impression) of ESA confirmed the presence of methane on Mars. (Image credit: ESA - D. Ducros.)

With the detection a few years ago

Methane was the first organic

[Today, scientists announced a fresh analysis of the data, again speculating that the methane could indicate biological activity on Mars.]

"On Earth most of the methane

Although it is possible that similar

Onstott and his colleagues are

Out-sourcing methane

Methane was discovered on Mars in

Although the amount of Martian

"In order for methane to be

Onstott estimates that this

What could be generating methane at

Abiogenic methane is made under the

The methane may come out directly

The other main alternative is that

"Enzymes are capable of

Biogenic methane-production could be

Light eaters

There is a way to determine the

The building blocks of methane

"Enzymatic processes work

In the case of methanogens, they

The result is that biogenic methane

One confounding factor is that

However, Onstott thinks that

Give it a ring

There are in general two ways to

The alternative is to use an optical

The Mars Science

For this reason, he and his

The cavity's walls are partially

The time it takes for ring down is a

Although the CRDS is a mature technology,

The goal now is to make the instrument

"We plan to make modifications


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Michael Schirber
Contributing Writer

Michael Schirber is a freelance writer based in Lyons, France who began writing for and Live Science in 2004 . He's covered a wide range of topics for and Live Science, from the origin of life to the physics of NASCAR driving. He also authored a long series of articles about environmental technology. Michael earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Ohio State University while studying quasars and the ultraviolet background. Over the years, Michael has also written for Science, Physics World, and New Scientist, most recently as a corresponding editor for Physics.