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NASA and Science magazine will announce Thursday afternoon that large amounts of methane have been found on the Red Planet, which could be a sign of biological activity.
It's "the most important discovery of all time," former British civil servant and fervent UFO hunter Nick Pope told the Sun. "We've really only scratched the surface — it's an absolute certainty that there is life out there and we are not alone."
(American media outlets are not yet reporting the story because they're honoring an "embargo," a promise to not run a story until a designated time, in this case 2 p.m. EST, when NASA is expected to hold a press conference. The Sun "broke" the embargo, prompting other British papers to follow suit.)
Originally posted by Riposte
What's the big deal? It's just NASA announcing a hypothesis. There is no confirmation of anything.
But the key attraction for methane is that it exists or can be made on many worlds that NASA might want to visit someday, including Mars.
Although Mars is not rich in methane, methane can be manufactured there via the Sabatier process: Mix some carbon dioxide (CO2) with hydrogen (H), then heat the mixture to produce CH4 and H20--methane and water. The Martian atmosphere is an abundant source of carbon dioxide, and the relatively small amount of hydrogen required for the process may be brought along from Earth or gathered in situ from Martian ice.
The atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune all contain methane, and Pluto has frozen methane ice on its surface. New kinds of missions to these worlds may become possible with methane rockets.
Originally posted by whatukno
Great, single celled organisms with a bad case of gas.
Not the little green men we were promised but rude little microorganisms that eat too many beans.
What does this tell us? That earth is going to meet it's end due to the gaseous emanations coming from amoebae?
Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 00:47 GMT 01:47 UK
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Methane on Mars could signal life
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor
Martian canyon, European Space Agency
Is there life beneath the soil?
Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign that life exists today on Mars.
It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft.
Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished.
There are two possible sources: either active volcanoes, none of which have been found yet on Mars, or microbes.