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Martian Methane: Carbon compound hints at life

Evidence that parts of ancient Mars had oceans and might have supported some form of life in the past grabbed front-page headlines just a few weeks ago (SN: 3/27/04, p. 195: Available to subscribers at Signs of Water Flow: Oceans of data point to ancient Martian sea). But detection of the simple carbon compound methane in the Martian atmosphere by both ground-based telescopes and an orbiting spacecraft spotlights an even more intriguing possibility: There might be primitive life, even today, on the Red Planet.

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