Methane on Mars? Organic Compounds Confound!

Published December 18, 2014 by ashawnomy

Despite the 1930’s news reporter voice (or the announcer for the old Batman TV show), the title of this post alludes to the discovery of organic compounds on Mars, as well as the detection of Methane at different intervals.  There are two discoveries here that are different, but SEEM to point in a specific direction, if correct.

First, the discovery of organic compounds.  Quite simply organic molecules contain Carbon, the basic element of life. All Earth-bound life is carbon based.  The fact that they are finding evidence of Carbon at least gives us the idea that some of the building blocks of life are present in the Martian soil.

Second, the detection of Methane spikes over a 20 month period is interesting.  On Earth, Methane is primarily produced by living things, although not always.  When you pass gas, you are release Methane into the air.  Microorganisms produce Methane as an energy source, called methanogenesis.  It can also be produced without the presence of life through a process called serpentinization.  This process involves water, carbon dioxide, and a mineral called olivine, commonly found on Mars.  The rover, Curiosity, was detecting these spikes at different times and in different places.  Those of us who like to believe that aliens are farting, will believe that aliens are farting . . . for now.

There is nothing definitive here, and the sample time is not long enough to be conclusive of anything, but it does lend to the idea that between the present organic Carbon compounds, the sporadic bursts of Methane, combined with the presence of polar ice caps, mixed with the discovery of ancient water on Mars, paints an interesting picture.  What happened there?  Could we simply be relatives of some old Martian bacteria?  We may be closer to finding out!

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