January 19, 2009
This is intriguing
I don’t know if this has been all over the news and I missed it somehow, but apparently NASA have found methane on Mars. That’s very very interesting.
For the layman, methane only occurs on Earth as result of two things: volcanic activity and microbial activity (i.e. life). Neither of which Mars is supposed to have. There isn’t any process that would produce methane if Mars is what it’s normally thought to be, a cold lifeless rock.
Mars has volcanoes, or rather had volanoes; they’re all extinct. It doesn’t show any signs of ever having had plate tectonics in the way we’re familiar with, and as far as I’m aware its molten core is thought to be very deep and steadily getting colder. The NASA folks specifically mention that the methane is coming from where liquid water was most likely last seen, so I bet I can guess what they’re hoping for. Whatever they do decide, we will have learned something interesting.