Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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Professor Atreya comments on Martian methane gas for Nature magazine

Posted: April 24, 2018

Professor Atreya comments on Martian methane gas for Nature magazine

Professor Sushil Atreya recently spoke with Nature magazine about the surprising presence of methane gas in the Martian atmosphere.

The article, Mars probe poised to solve red planet’s methane mystery‚Äč, focuses on the hope that the ESA-Russian Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) will end a long-running debate over source of the gas on Mars.

From the article:

'...the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) has reached the ideal position to study the planet’s atmosphere, and has made its first scientific observations. It is poised to solve one of the most controversial mysteries in Martian science: why methane, a possible signature of life, is being released on the red planet.'

''Scientists have been catching hints of methane in the Martian atmosphere for 15 years using Earth-based telescopes, Mars orbiters and NASA’s Curiosity rover. As evidence of the gas has accumulated, the debate over its origin has intensified. “Nearly 95% of all the methane in the Earth’s atmosphere originated from current and past biology,” says Sushil Atreya, a planetary scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “So, it is natural to ask whether methane on Mars is also of biologic origin.”'

Read the full article here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-04948-x