Scientists using Earth-based telescopes have taken detailed measurements of the gas methane on Mars, a finding that supports the possibility of underground life on the Red Planet.
The concentrations found by scientists from NASA and other U.S. institutions are consistent with methane plumes produced by underground microbes on Earth.
“It might be evidence of biology below the surface,” said Michael Mumma, director of the Center for Astrobiology at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and lead author of the methane study published today in the journal Science.
The new study found that concentrations of the gas varied greatly by location and season on Mars.
The largest plume found by the scientists contained about 19,000 metric tons of methane, which is comparable to the methane produced at the large hydrocarbon seep Coal Oil Point in California, where underwater bacteria produce methane by processing hydrocarbons.
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