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#1 2004-11-15 11:33:05

BWhite
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From: Chicago, Illinois
Registered: 2004-06-16
Posts: 2,635

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

New Scientist

"It's real," say Stephen Squyres, science team leader for NASA's twin Mars rovers. The important thing now, he told New Scientist, is to figure out where it's coming from and where it's going.”

Plentiful hydrogen peroxide in the atmosphere? Wow!

Adding to the intrigue are new calculations by Atreya showing that dust devils and storms on Mars - known to be frequent and intense - must be producing vast quantities of hydrogen peroxide. This highly reactive oxidant was inferred to exist on Mars after the 1976 Viking experiments, but not actually detected until 2003.


Give someone a sufficient why and they can endure just about any how

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#2 2004-11-15 11:52:48

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

Plentiful hydrogen peroxide in the atmosphere? Wow!

Adding to the intrigue are new calculations by Atreya showing that dust devils and storms on Mars - known to be frequent and intense - must be producing vast quantities of hydrogen peroxide. This highly reactive oxidant was inferred to exist on Mars after the 1976 Viking experiments, but not actually detected until 2003.

Related

*...old thread may be of additional interest. 

--Cindy

P.S.:  Ikonboard somehow duplicated this thread.


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#3 2004-11-15 12:17:58

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,084

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

I am wondering if that is what occurs in the releasal of the hydrogen peroxide from within the Water from a Stone article changes which happen to the salt formations of various types.

http://www.astrobio.net/news....thold=0

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#4 2004-11-15 21:44:04

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

Earlier this year, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope detected about 20 parts per billion (ppb) of hydrogen peroxide in the martian atmosphere, which apparently fits in with theoretical predictions about the existence of the catalytic gas there.
    I'm not able to find out where in the atmosphere this gas is concentrated, if anywhere, or whether that figure of 20 ppb is representative of the atmosphere as a whole (?). In addition, I can't locate any information on the stability of H2O2 in Mars' lower atmosphere, where CO2 mixes with small concentrations of oxygen, water vapour, and now, methane.

    If we assume the methane is biological in origin, it is clearly concentrated enough, at 60 ppb or higher, to overcome the effects of H2O2 (20 ppb), with which it reacts, at least on a local level. In other words, any H2O2 in the lower atmosphere, even that produced by dust devils I assume, is being 'mopped up' by methane.
    This would, in turn, enable the microorganisms producing the methane to thrive, since the antiseptic H2O2 is being kept at much lower levels.

    I can imagine this set-up as a kind of 'Gaia-like' control of the environment by life - stabilising the conditions to enhance its own viability - as life here on Earth is known to do.
    Admittedly, on Mars the conditions are far more marginal than they are here but the principle may still hold. The methane waste product of life on Mars may be limiting the concentration of H2O2 and thus enhancing the conditions for life to continue and to produce more methane .. etc. etc.

    Just a little speculation.   smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#5 2005-03-20 21:12:43

srmeaney
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From: 18 tiwi gdns rd, TIWI NT 0810
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Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

H2O2 on Mars is obviously the result of the break up of Water in the Permafrost. Photonic energy is exciting the water molecule to a higher energy level which allows the Iron to steal the Oxygen. Iron Oxide forms and the Hydrogen floats off to bond with Atmospheric O2.
Chemistry Happens. Of course it could be from Bacteria produced Alcohol in which case you are looking at the fermentation of simple sugars and the building blocks for early life.

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#6 2005-06-03 10:16:30

SpaceNut
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Posts: 23,084

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

Martian methane could come from rocks

Olivine is enough to explain 'whiff of life', claim geologists

When olivine is heated under pressure, it reacts with water and carbon dioxide to create methane, leaving the mineral serpentine behind. Geologists have calculated that the necessary conditions exist a few kilometres below Mars's surface. And we know that the red planet hosts some green olivine: the mineral has been found in martian meteorites, and has been spotted by both the Mars rover Opportunity and NASA's orbiting probe, Mars Global Surveyor

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#7 2005-06-07 05:52:53

Almir
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From: Brasília-DF, Brasil
Registered: 2003-02-17
Posts: 19

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

1- And about formaldehyde?

If you consider formaldehyde as oxidized methane, then Mars is producing 2.5 million tonnes of methane a year," says Formisano.
Formaldehyde is far more unstable, surviving for just 7.5 hours...

http://www.bioedonline.org/news/news.cfm?art=1600

2 -And about:

Water and methane maps overlap on Mars: a new clue?
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars_Expres … DYD_0.html

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#8 2005-08-02 22:14:03

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

I'm not sure if this reference has already been posted by someone else (apologies if it has):-
"Methane on Mars: the plot thickens."

A quote or three for the temporally challenged:-

Methane on Mars may be produced at rates 3000 times higher than previously thought and partially destroyed by dust storms, controversial new research suggests.

But I think it's premature to draw conclusions [about a biological source],” says Mumma [Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, US]

But he [Jim Lyons, a planetary scientist at the University of California in Los Angeles] is sceptical that any methane exists on Mars - much less in different concentrations across its surface. Still, he and colleagues have just published a study showing that geological activity could explain any methane that is present.
... Recent high-resolution images of Mars reveal crater-free surfaces that may have been covered by lava within the last 2 million years. That suggests magma could still be flowing below the surface today, says Lyons.

So, the enigma of Martian methane lives on!  smile
However, it's interesting that at least one or two scientists are sceptical that there's any methane there at all! And it seems there is a perfectly consistent explanation involving geological sources of the gas.
-- Even if Mars is sterile (something I doubt, but a better situation for terraformers anyhow), the alternative hypothesis of magma below the surface is also fascinating because, according to the 'Mars-lost-its-internal-heat-eons-ago' current wisdom, volcanic activity ought to be non-existent today.

I can't wait for the next instalment in this exciting story!  big_smile   :!:


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#9 2005-08-03 05:24:35

Palomar
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From: USA
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Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

... Recent high-resolution images of Mars reveal crater-free surfaces that may have been covered by lava within the last 2 million years. That suggests magma could still be flowing below the surface today, says Lyons.

So, the enigma of Martian methane lives on!  smile
However, it's interesting that at least one or two scientists are sceptical that there's any methane there at all! And it seems there is a perfectly consistent explanation involving geological sources of the gas.
-- Even if Mars is sterile (something I doubt, but a better situation for terraformers anyhow), the alternative hypothesis of magma below the surface is also fascinating because, according to the 'Mars-lost-its-internal-heat-eons-ago' current wisdom, volcanic activity ought to be non-existent today.

I can't wait for the next instalment in this exciting story!  big_smile   :!:

*I've been following the methane-related articles along with the rest of you.  It seems an enigma within an enigma, as this matter goes:  First they seem very confident there's methane on Mars to the point of incontrovertible proof then we're back to maybe...

What especially arouses my curiosity in the material you quoted is the magma could still be flowing below the surface today.  I'll read the entire article later today (is only a bit past 5:00 a.m. currently), see if it answers some questions forming in my mind.

There have been other articles (a few) indicating (not merely speculating about) current volcanic activity on Mars.  This is especially interesting, IMO.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#10 2005-08-03 06:10:22

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
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Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

*Found these quotes especially interesting.  We've known for a while about the charged dust storms (and dust devils):

They say dust particles that collide during Martian dust storms can become charged, with smaller particles gaining electrons and rising on air currents. This creates a large electric field that can accelerate electrons until they break apart water molecules in the atmosphere. The detritus from this smash-up can then oxidise, or destroy, methane molecules.

It is not clear how large this dust-storm effect is, "but it does establish for the first time that there are other mechanisms for producing oxidants", Mumma notes.

As for the magma issue, I was hoping for a figure:

He and colleagues say magma welling up about 10 kilometres below the surface could melt any subsurface water ice and infuse it with carbon dioxide. As the water cools, it would release methane to seep upwards into the atmosphere.

He says a patch of subsurface magma just 1 km wide could account for methane at the 10 parts per billion level seen by some groups, and that a larger patch could account for Mumma's reported values.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#11 2005-08-03 18:16:08

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

Yes, indeed, Cindy.   smile
An "enigma within an enigma" as you put it. It certainly is remarkable that the same data about methane on Mars can convince so many scientists that methane definitely exists there, while other scientists can express serious scepticism.  :?

As far as the work of Sushil Atreya et al. on the destruction of methane is concerned:-

They say dust particles that collide during Martian dust storms can become charged, with smaller particles gaining electrons and rising on air currents. This creates a large electric field that can accelerate electrons until they break apart water molecules in the atmosphere. The detritus from this smash-up can then oxidise, or destroy, methane molecules.

... I haven't much faith in Dr. Atreya for reasons I've outlined in another thread. The basis of my doubts rests with his premising his work on the 'fact' that the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometers (GCMSs) on the Viking craft showed the Martian soil is devoid of organic material. I was stunned to read that a serious scientist could build hypotheses based on proven nonsense like this! If he could make such an error in his background research, how can we have confidence in the rest of his work?  yikes

In fact, in another part of this New Scientist extract I've linked:-

James Lyons, a planetary scientist at the University of California in Los Angeles, US, agrees. "It doesn't look to me like you have enough dust activity to produce the electric fields you want to produce," he told New Scientist. "But it's probably the best idea if we really do need an additional mechanism for destroying methane in the atmosphere."

... Dr. Lyons casts doubt on the mechanism Dr. Atreya postulates.

So much confusion and contradictory interpretation!!!  :shock:
I think I'm getting dizzy!  roll


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#12 2005-08-04 05:04:26

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

An "enigma within an enigma" as you put it. It certainly is remarkable that the same data about methane on Mars can convince so many scientists that methane definitely exists there, while other scientists can express serious scepticism.  :?

So much confusion and contradictory interpretation!!!  :shock:
I think I'm getting dizzy!  roll

*If they were simply wrangling about how methane is produced and how it might disperse (or disappear or whatever), that'd be one thing.  But that there is such disagreement as to whether or not methane actually exists on Mars...

Reminds me of physicians arguing over a diagnosis.  tongue

Seems unusual as well, the degree of it.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#13 2005-11-01 09:53:03

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,084

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

Methane Found In Desert Soils Bolsters Theories That Life Could Exist On Mars

Evidence of methane-producing organisms can be found in inhospitable soil environments much like those found on the surface of Mars, according to experiments undertaken by scientists and students from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and the University of Arkansas and published online in the journal Icarus.
These results, they say, provide ample impetus for similar "biodetection experiments" to be considered for future missions to Mars.

This soil and vapor samples from the arid environment of the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. With three of five vapor samples showing a presence of methane. While additional samples that were take produced five out of 40 that produced methane after the addition of growth medium. This is an indicator that the methane was given off by a biological organism.

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#14 2005-11-04 10:04:14

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,084

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

Well we seem to have been able to ruleout volcanoes as to the source of methane.
The NASA Infrared spectrometer portion of the Telescope in Hawaii. Had been targeting sulphur dioxide (SO2) observations with regards to volcanic activity.

Volcanoes ruled out for Martian methane

New observations of the Martian atmosphere show no trace of sulphurous fumes.

So why follow the methane for life question:

Methane breaks down when exposed to sunlight, so its discovery in the Martian atmosphere two years ago meant that something on the planet was continually producing more of the gas.

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#15 2008-01-14 21:18:39

Gregori
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From: Baile Atha Cliath, Eireann
Registered: 2008-01-13
Posts: 297

Re: A new methane thread - Starting from more recent data

Methane is one of the simplest and most common chemicals in the Universe. There are a thousand and one ways it could have formed without life. Neptune and Uranus's atmsophere's are filled with the stuff.

Those trumpeting the methane=life theory are probably looking for either hype or funding. Life will not appear on Mars because we want it to.

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