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January 15, 2009

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bgates

Passing gas??? They're heating their world. Organic gases and water vapor, the planet-destroyingest substances known to Gaia. Save us, Obama!

kim

That explains all the pod people.
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JJ

Thanks, will keep me chuckling all day. Look up in the sky! Flatulent Martian flying saucers!

Vinman

I, for one, welcome our new Martian overlords.

Soylent Red

Methane?

**Desperately fights urge to post comment related to Uranus**

Jane

So how long before the left says that Mars once had 20 billion happy healthy and prospering people, but ignored global warming and look what happened? Oh and BTW if you don't buy into Gore's ponzi scheme the same thing will happen to us on or before next week.

cahmd

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=18410
Per above link to an "elderly" NASA article regarding Titan's methane,in order to assert or suggest that the martian methane is of biological origin, requires demonstration of enrichment for carbon 12 in the methane molecules; Titan's methane is predominatly carbon 13, a nonbilological source of carbon.

clarice

Don't make fun of the Sun. Some things are sacred.
As for the gas passing Martians, i hope they don't hitch a ride in Daddy's car on a day so cold he cannot open the windows. The poor man has suffered enough from that sort of thing.

bad

Martin farts cause global warming. Got it...Makes more sense than anything algore spews...

Charlie (Colorado)

I don't know about that. It's what we expect on Earth because Earth's biology preferentially absorbs 12C, and the relative change in concentration is pretty small.

The absolute declaration that these methane plumes must be abiotic seems to require (1) the assumption that Martian biology inevitably would have the same preferential characteristic as Earth's, (2) confidence that the difference isn't within measurement error for an instrument that is, after all, above the atmosphere and passing by at five or six km/s, and (3) some proposal for an abiotic mechanism that could put out that much methane for that long, since methane breaks down quickly in Martian conditions.

PeterUK

Mars obviously needs a Community Organiser.

clarice

You're nothing but a troublemaker,Mr PUK.

matt

underneath the surface of Mars are massive cattle yards.......

Soylent Red

Mars obviously needs a Community Organiser.

I know one I'll send them for next to nothing.

We could graft Biden's head on, and send them Zaphobamad Bidenbrox.

kim

I smell an urgent need for towels on Mars.
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Neo

NOAA has most tof the country at about normal temperature, but Waxman wants his AGW pound of flesh anyway.

So exactly what replaces "Big Oil" .. "Big non-Oil" ?

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

PeterUK

"underneath the surface of Mars are massive cattle yards......."

Of course there are,where else do you think MarsBurgers come from?

Thomas Collins

Have they paid their interplanetary self-employment taxes?

PeterUK

At first I thought this was a new band,"Methane and the Microbes" but it could easily be the new administration.

Daddy

I accept as unreliable all reports about potential life on Mars unless it comes from a DC Prostitute having her toes sucked by a senior administration official. But that's just me.

cahmd

Why finding life on Mars maybe bad news for us:www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/06/mars-the-great-filter-and-extraterrestrial-life.
It's unlikely that a relatively rare form of Carbon that is seen to be predominant in abiotically derived organic molecules would become part of the basis for extraterrestial life forms in our solar system-Mars and Earth are virtual twins from a cosmic perspective. If you are going to argue for a carbon-13 based life form in our solar system, then Titan is the place to go. The Martian atmosphere is enriched for carbon-13.

sbw

Soylent: Zaphobamad Bidenbrox

A well-deserved hat-tip to the late, great Douglas Adams.

Charlie (Colorado)

Well, the actual announcement is pretty unequivocal. I've got a call in to my friends at NASA, but it's showing both seasonal variation and geographic localization.

I wish the actual paper were available though.

Charlie (Colorado)

Here's some stuff from the press:

“I think this is extremely strong evidence for current life on Mars,” said McKay, who works at Johnson Space Center.

“It doesn’t prove it. But, to me, that is very strong support for the microbial life theory that we have been promoting with evidence for a number of years.”

The new methane data, collected by NASA senior scientist Michael Mumma and other planetary scientists, found that concentrations of the gas varied greatly by location and season on Mars.

The primary plume they found 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.

Further studies during future missions to Mars are needed to determine whether the methane originates from biological or non-biological sources.

Although it is possible to produce methane through inorganic processes, those typically do not produce the concentrations of methane observed on Mars.

“These methane concentrations are an indicator that there might be life,” said Paul Cloutier, a Rice University astronomer who served as a principal investigator on the Mars Global Surveyor, a spacecraft that orbited, and collected data about Mars from 1997 to 2006.

“If methane were absent, you would be able to argue more forcefully there isn’t life on Mars.”

Hangincaptin

Microbes are all over. Like the women who weave webs about you life and then take your money. So, Nortel's pensions(this is money) did them in, same with autos. Microbes spinning webs......

Maybe NASA is going to send another meteor?

larry

"...the planet is able to support simple organisms." Obama and Biden would fit right in.

"underneath the surface of Mars are massive cattle yards......." After the long, dusty trail to the yards the Martian cowboys all go drink in Mars Bars.

cahmd

Cassini has mapped about 20 percent of Titan's surface with radar. Several hundred lakes and seas have been observed, with each of several dozen estimated to contain more hydrocarbon liquid than Earth's oil and gas reserves. Dark dunes that run along the equator contain a volume of organics several hundred times larger than Earth's coal reserves.

Proven reserves of natural gas on Earth total 130 billion tons, enough to provide 300 times the amount of energy the entire United States uses annually for residential heating, cooling and lighting. Dozens of Titan's lakes individually have the equivalent of at least this much energy in the form of methane and ethane.

Saturn's orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/media/cassini-20080213.html

Granted not all is methane but I find it hard to believe that there would be more methane on Mars than either Earth or Titan.

If Martian methane is C-12 predominant then that approaches slam dunk evidence for ongoing life. If predominantly abiotic it could suggest an active crust which might harbor life.

E. Nigma

Methane can indeed me made from non-biological sources, and the methane observed on Mars could indeed be from a non-biological source. Or it could be a fossil remnant from the formation of the planet that periodically escapes from the subsurface.

Mars has a "dead" core, not a hot molten core such as Mother Terra, and therefore has a much weaker magnetic field. Fact number one in which Mars is "not like Earth".
Mars is about 1/3 smaller, with a correspondingly weaker gravitational field, meaning it is harder to hold an atmosphere to sustain life. Fact number two in which Mars in "not like Earth".
Mars' mean distance from the Sun is about half again what Earth's is, meaning by a root mean square approximation, it receives about 1/4 the solar radiation (heating) from the Sun than Earth does. Fact number three in which Mars is "not like Earth".

There may indeed be some kind of bacteria under the surface that are creating methane, and there may indeed be a good reason to study the planet more closely. But this observation, in and of itself, proves nothing. It is a very interesting observation, but not more than that. Prudent and skeptical scientists should know better than to jump to this kind of conclusion. It is not substantiated.

So it could be just some faction within NASA trying to gin up enthusiasm for budget money to mount a manned mission to Mars. I'm all for that, but not under false premises.

gincan

Terra form is a no?

sylvia

FYI don't know if you all saw it but I saw an article a little while back on global warming in Reuters that talked about how Japan is going to put some some satelite up that will use some new technique to read temperatures in thousands of spots around the world, as compared to the only hundreds that we use now. That whould help solve the debate.

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