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Water and Methane overlap on Mars

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imran10

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Water and methane maps overlap on Mars: a new clue?<br /><br /><i>Recent analyses of ESA’s Mars Express data reveal that concentrations of water vapour and methane in the atmosphere of Mars significantly overlap. This result, from data obtained by the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS), gives a boost to understanding of geological and atmospheric processes on Mars, and provides important new hints to evaluate the hypothesis of present life on the Red Planet.</i>
 
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robnissen

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Life needs water. Life makes methane. Methane and water vapor overlap on Mars. Hmmmm?????
 
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blairf

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I can't be bothered to bump up the older methane/life/ammonia threads. I just hope this time some real papers appear!<br /><br />I'm guessing this story originates somewhere near Ischia and the international mars conference. IIRC the interesting papers get presented in the next couple of days.
 
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Maddad

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I'll be looking forward to reading them. Probably the crucial point is going to be whether there is any other process other than life that can make methane on Mars. If there isn't, then we've got an answer.
 
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centsworth_II

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From the article:<br /><i>"In-situ observations by future lander missions to Mars may provide a more exhaustive solution to the puzzle."</i><br /><br />I look forward to a new space race between the Europeans and the Americans (anyone else is also welcome) to be the first to find life on Mars. How long before a lander specifically designed to find life is placed in an area specifically chosen, using reliable, provacative data, for its likelihood of harboring life?<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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fangsheath

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It is important to realize that it is not 2 things that are correlated, but at least 4:<br /><br />water mass fraction in the ground<br />water vapor levels in the atmosphere close to the surface<br />density of dark slope streaks<br />methane levels in the atmosphere<br /><br />All of these are among their highest levels (outside of the polar regions) in Arabia Terra and the Memnonia region. The correlations are by no means perfect but are definitely there. I have displayed the first 3 here.
 
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silylene old

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I first point out that the hard UV light is not filtered out of the Martian atmosphere by ozone. With this is mind, let's keep grounded by the fact that CO2 can be photoreduced to CH4 on suitable catalysts, such as metal oxides (which are common in the Martian soils). Or with really DUV light (F2 laser = 157 nm), no catalysts is required.<br /><br />I think we should pursue more research on abiotic generation of methane, specifically photoreductive processes. If we fully understand this area, we will also understand the limitations of whether abiotic methane chemistry is possible in the Martian environment.<br /><br />But I would not start beating the "life is proven" drum until we eliminate the more mundane origins of methane (or ammonia, too for that matter).<br /><br />Here are a few of the many interesting abstracts on the abiotic photoreduction of CO2 to make methane:<br /><br />vacuum-UV laser photolysis of CO2 systems. Nakashima, N.; Ojima, Y.; Kojima, M.; Izawa, Y.; Yamanaka, C.; Akano, T. Institute Laser Engineering, Osaka University, Suita, Japan. Energy Conversion and Management (1995), 36(6-9), 673-6. CODEN: ECMADL ISSN: 0196-8904. Journal written in English. CAN 123:270397 AN 1995:727451 CAPLUS <br /><br />Abstract <br /><br />Gaseous CO2 was photoreduced on irradn. with a vacuum-UV F2 laser (158 nm). The final products were formaldehyde, methane etc. for the case of a mixt. with hydrogen, and alc. for systems of hydrofluorocarbons. <br /><br />+++++++++ <br /><br />Photoreduction of carbon dioxide and water into formaldehyde and methanol on semiconductor materials. Aurian-Blajeni, B.; Halmann, M.; Manassen, J. Weizmann Inst. Sci., Rehovot, Israel. Solar Energy (1980), 25(2), 165-70. CODEN: SRENA4 ISSN: 0038-092X. Journal written in English. CAN 94:124490 AN 1981:124490 CAPLUS <br /><br />Abstract <br /><br />Heterogeneous photoassisted redn. of aq. CO2 to produce MeOH [67-56-1], HCHO [50-00-0], and CH4 [74-82-8] was achieved by using semiconductor powders with eithe <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature" align="center"><em><font color="#0000ff">- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -</font></em> </div><div class="Discussion_UserSignature" align="center"><font color="#0000ff"><em>I really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function.</em></font> </div> </div>
 
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silylene old

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Some more interesting papers on abiotic formatin of methane:<br /><br /><b>Photocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide by silicate rock sands under sunlight irradiation.</b> Ohta, Kiyohisa; Kawamura, Takuya; Kuroda, Shigehiro; Mizuno, Takayuki. Dep. Chem. Mater., Mie Univ., Mie, Japan. Proceedings - Electrochemical Society (1993), 93-18(Proceedings of the Symposium on Environmental Aspects of Electrochemistry and Photoelectrochemistry, 1993), 85-94. CODEN: PESODO ISSN: 0161-6374. Journal written in English. CAN 120:65681 AN 1994:65681 CAPLUS <br /><br />Abstract<br /><br />The photocatalytic redn. of carbon dioxide by silicate rock sands under sunlight irradn. has been reported. By the photochem. redn. of carbon dioxide and water on andesite sands, hydrogen and methane were produced at ambient temp. and atm. pressure. The yields of methane and hydrogen were 14 and 16 mmol per 5 g of andesite for about 260 h sunlight irradn., resp. Consequently, it was proved that in the nature world, in addn. to biol. productions, hydrogen and methane were produced from carbon dioxide by the redn. over wetting-silicate rocks illuminated. <br /><br />+++++++++++++++<br /><br /><b>Abiotic synthesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on Mars. </b> Zolotov, Mikhail; Shock, Everett. Group Exploring Organic Processes in Geochemistry (GEOPIG), Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA. Journal of Geophysical Research, [Planets] (1999), 104(E6), 14033-14049. CODEN: JGPLEH ISSN: 0148-0227. Journal written in English. CAN 131:216784 AN 1999:443783 CAPLUS <br /><br />Abstract<br /><br />Thermochem. calcns. of metastable equil. are used to evaluate the stability of condensed polycyclic arom. hydrocarbons (PAHs) in cooling thermal gases and hydrothermal fluids on ancient Mars, which are roughly similar to their terrestrial counterparts. The effects of temp., pressure, the extent of PAH alkylation, and t <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature" align="center"><em><font color="#0000ff">- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -</font></em> </div><div class="Discussion_UserSignature" align="center"><font color="#0000ff"><em>I really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function.</em></font> </div> </div>
 
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silylene old

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Most photoreductive processes of CO2 require water. So the process would not occur in an absolutely dry region. Hence the coincidence of observing water and methane in the same region actually support an abiotic photoreductive process. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature" align="center"><em><font color="#0000ff">- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -</font></em> </div><div class="Discussion_UserSignature" align="center"><font color="#0000ff"><em>I really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function.</em></font> </div> </div>
 
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centsworth_II

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Even if it were found that 100% of Mars' methane were of abiotic origin, an optimist would say 'Ah ha! So this is the food source for martian methanophiles!' <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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robnissen

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Current volcanic activity on Mars would certainly increase the likelihood of current life on Mars.
 
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Maddad

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You know, I've been thinking that Mars is geologically dead, so it can't be vulcanism. However, the methane concentration in the atmosphere is only 100 ppb, which is vanishingly tiny. That compounds the fact that Mars has 0.005 times as dense an atmosphere as Earth's. It would not take much geologic activity to outgass this much methane.
 
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exoscientist

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But free water near equator cold also support a biosphere.<br /><br /> Bob Clark <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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nexium

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Antarctica has a biosphere, but it is tiny and likely dependent on trace materials drifting from the warmer portion of Earth. Mars has no warmer portion, unless there is some geo thermal heat escaping that we have not detected.<br /> My guess is we will discover small, but significant amounts of geothermal heat escaping both Mars and the Moon as we continue exploration. Neil
 
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