Gas could nourish life deep underneath Red Planet’s surface
If microbes have taken refuge beneath the surface of Mars, then they probably won’t starve. Martian rocks store quite a bit of methane, which simple life could use to extract energy, researchers report June 16 in Nature Communications. The findings suggest that Mars is hiding underground habitable environments similar to those found deep in Earth.
Samples from six Martian meteorites, delivered to Earth millions of years ago after asteroids slammed into the Red Planet, released substantial amounts of methane and hydrogen when crushed, Nigel Blamey, a geochemist at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, and colleagues report. Both gases could be produced by water mixing with the minerals olivine and pyroxene in the rocks, the researchers say.
The Curiosity rover recently detected spikes of methane in the Martian atmosphere, indicating that something is creating fresh batches of the molecule