Martian Methane: Carbon compound hints at life | Science News



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Martian Methane: Carbon compound hints at life

10:53am, April 7, 2004

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.

By analyzing data collected by an earthbound telescope in 1999, Vladimir A. Krasnopolsky of the Catholic University of America in Washington,

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