Related item: Astronomy picture of the day of the subsurface of Mars.
|Illustration Credit: Methane Workshop, Frascati Italy, Villanueva et al. 2009, ESA Medialab, NASA|
Recent measurements from the robotic Curiosity rover currently rolling across Mars indicate a surprising 10-fold increase in atmospheric methane between measurements only months apart. Life is a major producer of methane on Earth, and so speculation is rampant that some sort of life -- possibly microbial life -- is creating methane beneath the surface of Mars. Other possibilities do exist, though, with a leading model being the sudden release of methane produced by the mixing of specific soil chemicals with underground water.