Methane, Water Vapor Point to Something Interesting on Mars

A few months ago, scientists announced preliminary data indicating the presence of methane gas in the atmosphere of Mars. The same team has now announced that this methane appears to be coming from three specific regions on the planet that also have a higher concentration of water vapor than the planetary atmospheric average.

On Monday, Dr. Vittorio Formisano, principal investigator for the Mars Express Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS), presented the new data at the International Mars Conference being held in Ischia, Italy. The presence of methane and water vapor together could point to present geothermic activity, life forms, or both on Mars.

The PFS instrument has also detected other gases and the analysis of this data is being peer reviewed. It is tempting to jump to conclusions, but although the scientists are openly suggesting the possibility of present life on Mars, they emphasis that much more data and analysis are required and that future missions to Mars may be necessary to find out for sure.

Richard Leis

Richard Leis

Richard Leis (he/him/his) lives in Tucson, Arizona where he writes poetry and fiction, attends and teaches writing workshops at the Writers Studio Tucson, and works for HiRISE, a team in the Lunar & Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona with a camera in orbit around Mars onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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