Whiff of Martian methane offers lively possibilities

Life is a gas on the Red Planet, possibly thanks to below-surface bacteria

2:19pm, January 15, 2009

No one is suggesting that Mars has flatulent cows, but a new study shows that the Red Planet, like Earth, spews methane. Researchers say it’s possible that the gas could be generated by bacteria living beneath the Martian surface.

The methane emissions, observed over three Mars years (seven Earth years), come from three distinct locations and vary with the seasons — strongest in Martian summer and weakest in winter, Mike Mumma of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and his colleagues report online January 15 in Science.

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