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Mystery of Missing Martian Methane Deepens

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the send-burritos dept.

Mars 53

astroengine writes "NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has been scouring the thin Martian atmosphere for methane — a potential tracer for the presence of Martian life. However, since the gas also can be produced geologically, any findings promised a meaty debate. That discussion can be shelved, perhaps permanently, new findings from a team of Curiosity scientists shows. The most extensive search yet for methane in Mars' atmosphere has come up empty. 'It's disappointing, of course. We would have liked to get [to Gale Crater] and found lots of methane and measure all the isotopes,' lead researcher Christopher Webster, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Discovery News."

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Shouldn't that be... (4, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#44896845)

Mystery of Missing Martian Methane Magnifies?

Re:Shouldn't that be... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44896889)

an all-star alteration acolyte apparently

Re:Shouldn't that be... (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44896931)

Scientific scribblings should seldom sport sundry syllables.

Re:Shouldn't that be... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44896903)

The Martians used it in their cars instead of gas. They burned it all up.

Re:Shouldn't that be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897197)

This makes me very angry.

/marvin

Re:Shouldn't that be... (3, Funny)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#44896943)

Mystery of Missing Martian Methane May Mean More Mars Missions.

Re:Shouldn't that be... (3, Funny)

Professr3 (670356) | about a year ago | (#44897045)

Missing Martian Methane Mystery May Mean More Mars Missions - FTFY

Re:Shouldn't that be... (1)

Tyler Durden (136036) | about a year ago | (#44897059)

Masterful!

Re:Shouldn't that be... (1)

Tyler Durden (136036) | about a year ago | (#44897099)

Maybe...

Re:Shouldn't that be... (1)

dahl_ag (415660) | about a year ago | (#44897289)

Mulling the Mystery of Missing Martian Methane?

Re:Shouldn't that be... (1)

stms (1132653) | about a year ago | (#44902101)

Who Ever smelt it dealt it. Mystery solved.

Maybe Orson Welles was right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44896915)

Those Martians are already sufficiently advanced to figure out how to sequester methane within deep underground phracking sites.

Re:Maybe Orson Welles was right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897285)

The Martian dinosaurs have been dead for millions of years, there is no methane left from these creatures that long ago roamed the red planet.

Re:Maybe Orson Welles was right (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#44897311)

So judging by your subject line you're saying the Soviet Union killed the martians with Mars 2 [wikipedia.org] .

Later when their bodies were examined in the laboratories, it was found that they were killed by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared. . . slain, after all man's defenses had failed, by the humblest thing that God in His wisdom put upon this earth.

What mystery? (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#44896923)

In order for the mystery to deepen, we would first need to have a mystery, even a shallow(?) one. But what do we have here? A complete lack of a mystery.

Yes, life can produce methane. Yes, some geological processes can produce methane. Mars has neither... So?

I have a complete lack of Siberian tigers in my basement. That doesn't count as a mystery, deep or otherwise.

Re:What mystery? (0)

geek (5680) | about a year ago | (#44896949)

Indeed. I also take issue with the use of "missing." There was never any indication that it was there in the first place for it to be "missing."

Re:What mystery? (5, Informative)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year ago | (#44897295)

There has been plenty of indication that there was methane on Mars, which was an exciting prospect. Quoth the wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars#Atmosphere [wikipedia.org]

In short, orbiters such as the Mars Express detected methane. Methane only has an atmospheric life of a few years, which means if the orbiter detected it then something must be releasing it right now. The amount detected was more than could have been expected from non-living sources, which makes it an indication of life.

If we now can't detect it, that means either all our previous detections were wrong, or the methane has disappeared. Or, of course, that the rover isn't detecting it even though it is still there somewhere. All of which raises more questions than answers. Hence "mystery".

Re:What mystery? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44900215)

Indeed. I also take issue with the use of "missing." There was never any indication that it was there in the first place for it to be "missing."

Indeed. It's like expressing puzzlement over missing vaginas wrapping slashdotter wiener. Who the hell presumes its existence beyond fantasied hopes of life?

Re:What mystery? (5, Informative)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#44896985)

Yes, life can produce methane. Yes, some geological processes can produce methane. Mars has neither... So?

Well, that's the thing. Mars does have methane, we've detected it before. So the mystery is, what happened to the previously detected methane plumes? Why did they disappear?

So now not only do we not know what produced the methane in mars, we additionally don't know why it's no longer doing so. Mystery deepened.

Re:What mystery? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897387)

Well, that's the thing. Mars does have methane, we've detected it before. So the mystery is, what happened to the previously detected methane plumes? Why did they disappear?

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles below the Martian surface:
"Zorgnab, Kronznantz here - the Earthling's primitive landing craft has equipment for detecting methane on-board. If they detect methane, they may suspect that life evolved here. We can't give them a clue to our possible existence - activate the atmospheric scrubbers at once."

Re:What mystery? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44898045)

Yes, life can produce methane. Yes, some geological processes can produce methane. Mars has neither... So?

Well, that's the thing. Mars does have methane, we've detected it before. So the mystery is, what happened to the previously detected methane plumes? Why did they disappear?

So now not only do we not know what produced the methane in mars, we additionally don't know why it's no longer doing so. Mystery deepened.

Martians discovered Beano?

Re:What mystery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44898681)

did someone light a match?

Re:What mystery? (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about a year ago | (#44899441)

AFAIK methane is quite light - lighter than air. Mars atmosphere is composed almost entirely of CO2, which is heavier than air, so, wouldn't methane just rise to the top where it would be detected by orbiters but not be produces at such a rate to be in detectable concentration near the surface?

Re:What mystery? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44899899)

Mars does have methane, we've detected it before. So the mystery is, what happened to the previously detected methane plumes? Why did they disappear?

Martians fart in reverse.

After all, they have orange skies and blue sunsets, the opposite of ours.

Re:What mystery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897009)

Which is more likely? Earth/Mars was contaminated by material exchange (or were both seeded from the same source) and thus have life based on the same chemistry. Life on Mars arose independently from Earth and is based on completely different chemistry.

Re:What mystery? (5, Informative)

edjs (1043612) | about a year ago | (#44897021)

Some plumes of methane were detected by Mars orbiters and terrestrial telescopes 10 years ago, thus the expectation of the rover detecting the methane.

http://www.space.com/6319-mars-methane-geology-biology.html [space.com]

Re:What mystery? (4, Funny)

Professr3 (670356) | about a year ago | (#44897077)

In other news, the Martian EPA celebrated its 7th anniversary and declared victory over methane pollution...

Re:What mystery? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897051)

But dude, I put my collection of Siberian tigers in your basement last night. Their cages were damaged and I had to put them somewhere while they are fixed. The fact that they are no longer down there is going to change from a mystery to a tragedy really quick.

Re:What mystery? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44897611)

I admire the vet who fixes Siberian tigers.

Re:What mystery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897133)

Whoever modded the parent "Insightful" didn't read the article.

Re:What mystery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897151)

I have a complete lack of Siberian tigers in my basement. That doesn't count as a mystery, deep or otherwise.

Of course it is not mystery, you forgot to close the door last Saturday and they ran away.
Next time you go away close the fucking door or I will stop cooking for you.

Your Mom

Re:What mystery? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44897161)

Lets say you did in fact have a few Siberian tigers in your basement, how did they get there? You've got no idea! Then one day you came home and they were gone. The mystery deepens.

Re:What mystery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897181)

I have a complete lack of Siberian tigers in my basement. That doesn't count as a mystery, deep or otherwise.

Do you have one of those rocks that keep tigers away in your basement? [wordpress.com]

Re:What mystery? (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#44897247)

Of course it's not a mystery. Bengal tigers will eat their Siberian cousins if not properly fed.

Re:What mystery? (0)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#44897427)

Imagine you detected tiger in your basement.
Then when you went down stairs to look you couldn't find it.
What happened, and more importantly Would you want to know where the tiger is?

Re:What mystery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44899701)

It's behind the sign "beware of the leopard". Duh.

only a mystery... (2)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year ago | (#44897749)

It's only a mystery to those who assumed it should be there. After all, we all know life started on mars, hitched a ride on an asteroid, only to land on earth.

So much for Occam's razor.

MMMMMM.... methane (1)

PoconoPCDoctor (912001) | about a year ago | (#44897061)

Homer's favorite byproduct.

Obviously (1)

NotFamous (827147) | about a year ago | (#44897087)

Women don't fart, and neither do Martians.

Mystery solved (1)

NikeHerc (694644) | about a year ago | (#44897105)

There were no martian cows!

WHAT? (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year ago | (#44897219)

What kind of title is that? Does Nancy Drew work at NASA now?

Its obvious (-1, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#44897241)

It's obvious: It's George W Bushes fault. At least that's what obama says.

check behind the cushions of the sofa (1)

edxwelch (600979) | about a year ago | (#44897349)

Have they tried checking behind the cushions of the sofa? If anything goes missing that's where it usually ends up.

Evolution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897381)

Another scientific quest to try to prove that evolution is real - bites the dust! In the end, all scientist will KNOW that there is a God, but only for the reality of being in hell.

Perchlorate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897405)

One of the other landers found perchlorate compounds in the soil. Would those oxidise methane under Martian conditions (e.g. with a bit of ultraviolet light to kick-start the reaction)?

Where the phuck is Phil Phucking Plait? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897515)

That bitch used Slashdot like a two bit whore and left it behind when he was through, wiping his cum and shit covered cock on the faces of the users here. Phil was always about the dollars. He just wanted to get off and get out. He didn't give a fuck about the community regardless of how he likes to present himself in public. He just wants to drum up page hits to make more money. He had Slashdot in the ass and left it behind the second he busted a nut.
 
Slashdot... played like fucking retarded whores yet again.

What would say be the results if we sent the probe (0)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#44897883)

to.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Madera_crater [wikipedia.org] ?

Lots of methane or trace amounts? Or very little at all? What isotopes.

Mars is a dead planet, supposedly if there where any life at all it would only exist in extremely unique and sheltered conditions.

Sending a probe to an exposed crater is not likely to produce results. Mars needs a century of exploration, or at least a few decades of manned exploration before we can say yes, no, maybe with much of a degree of certainty. I've seen more yes's than no's. And this mission is a weak no in my book.

Bad Science doesnt go away. (3, Interesting)

kartaron (763480) | about a year ago | (#44898035)

It begins with Christopher Webster stating in no uncertain terms, this is the way things are and there isnt any methane to be found. His statements clearly hint toward doubt of the earlier measurements ..."the plumes were already hard to explain" Only to be contradicted later by Michael Mummy saying "I found them and they were really there... it must be a currently unknown 'process' that destroys methane at something near 100 times the currently accepted natural rate." (summary) Hilariously, the author combines the competing opinions without directly acknowledging the disagreement. Bad science doesnt go away, It circles around itself and refuses to admit flaws.

Just not looking hard enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44898937)

Just means that A) we're in the wrong place on the planet (maybe looking closer to areas of water ice) and B) we don't have enough probes scattered around the planet.

That would not be a problem (2)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | about a year ago | (#44899109)

If they sent Curiosity to Uranus

Disappointing Yes But Damning NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44899423)

One site tells the greatest information only about that one site and nothing more! :)

MartianLeakes unveiled missing methane cause (1)

analyst-cz (1386075) | about a year ago | (#44900165)

The message received from the anonymous source was first decyphered by MartianBrainBasedDecoder, than translated to (one of) standart earhians languages. We believe it was originally mentally transmitted 2 to 1 years ago. (MartianLeakes comment).

FROM: Central Defensive Strategy Post of Mars
TO: ALL ALL ALL
TOPIC: Counter Earth-spying mimicry and methane gas
TEXT: From last dissasemblies of captured earthians spying devices (codenames Phobos 1, 2, Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander) we believe that earthians are or soon will be able to detect methane gas produced by our units. Therefore Central Defensive Strategy Post of Mars decided the following:
1) Increase HID CON*) state to level 2.
2) Thus strictly forbid any non spacesuit-protected units to move on the opened surface of Mars (anybody, including child units, anywhere, no exclusions).
3) Order special chemical units to remove any traces of methan gas from the atmosphere over the opened surface of Mars ASAP.

*) HID CON = shortcut for the martians units Hiding Condition (MartianLeakes comment):
Level 5 - normal martian life status
Level 4 - no martians units are allowed to appear in the sighting field of cameras on the earth origin devices
Level 3 - no martians units are allowed to appear in the 5 km circle area around earth origin devices; any signs of intelligent life (and any life in fact) must be preemptively removed from the expected direction of earth origin devices movement, while any units on this task must wear appropriate mimicry suits.
Level 2 - all activities are suppressed except of deep inside caverns of Mars; special units are allowed to monitor earthians activities only in the special spacesuits.
Level 1 - we are doomed; remember indians in the intercepted earthians video transmittions and defend bravely untill the last stand

Easy (1)

yusing (216625) | about a year ago | (#44902027)

Sun's ultraviolet creates H2O2 from CO2; H2O2 'scrubs' methane. Next question??

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