Where does Mars’ methane come from? Not wind

earthsky.org | 8/20/2019 | Paul Scott Anderson
k.collazik.collazi (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: https://en.es-static.us/upl/2019/08/Mars-rocks-cliff-methane-Jun-11-2018-300x200.jpg

Mars is a rocky world, and some scientists have theorized that erosion by wind causes Mars rocks to produce methane. But a new study from Newcastle University refutes that. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Phys.org.

What is producing methane on Mars? That is a question that scientists have been trying to answer for quite some time now. There are various possibilities, both geological and biological, but narrowing them down has been a challenge. Could it really be a sign of … life? Now, a new study has shown that at least one of the geological scenarios is very unlikely: wind erosion of rocks.

Researchers - Newcastle - University - UK - Findings

Researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. published their peer-reviewed findings in Scientific Reports on June 3, 2019, and a new press release was issued on August 12, 2019. From the article abstract:

Seasonal changes in methane background levels and methane spikes have been detected in situ a metre above the martian surface, and larger methane plumes detected via ground-based remote sensing, however their origin have not yet been adequately explained. Proposed methane sources include the UV irradiation of meteoritic-derived organic matter, hydrothermal reactions with olivine, organic breakdown via meteoroid impact, release from gas hydrates, biological production, or the release of methane from fluid inclusions in basalt during aeolian erosion. Here we quantify for the first time the potential importance of aeolian abrasion as a mechanism for releasing trapped methane from within rocks, by coupling estimates of present day surface wind abrasion with the methane contents of a variety of martian meteorites, analogue terrestrial basalts and analogue terrestrial sedimentary rocks. We demonstrate that the abrasion of basalt under present day Martian rates of aeolian erosion is highly unlikely to produce detectable changes in methane concentrations in the atmosphere. We further show that, although there is a greater potential for methane production from the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: earthsky.org
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