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Planetary and Space Science ] (]]]]) ]]]]]] Methane and related trace species on Mars: Origin, loss,

Summary: Planetary and Space Science ] (]]]]) ]]]]]]
Methane and related trace species on Mars: Origin, loss,
implications for life, and habitability
Sushil K. Atreyaa,, Paul R. Mahaffyb
, Ah-San Wonga
Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences, Space Research Building, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2143, USA
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Accepted 8 February 2006
One of the most puzzling aspects of Mars is that organics have not yet been found on the surface. The simplest of organic molecules,
methane, was detected in the Martian atmosphere for the first time in 2003. The existence and behavior of methane on Mars is of great
significance, as methane is a potential biomarker. In this paper we review our current understanding of possible sources and sinks of
methane on Mars. We also investigate the role of other trace species in the maintenance and removal of methane from the atmosphere, as
well as of other organic material from the surface. In particular, we examine the exogenous, hydrogeochemical--especially
serpentinization--and biological sources, for supplying methane to Mars. We suggest that comets and meteorites are the least likely,
whereas low-temperature serpentinization is the most plausible of all candidates to explain the methane observations. Nevertheless, it is
premature to rule out the role of biology in producing methane on Mars, in view of available data. It is important to note that the loss of
methane to surface must also be factored into any ``source'' scenarios for methane. Ordinary heterogeneous loss process to surface tends


Source: Atreya, Sushil - Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science, University of Michigan


Collections: Physics