back to article Phew... Oi, was that you, Curiosity? Euro Mars sat inhaled mega methane blast, boffins baffled

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft caught a massive whiff of methane from orbit, confirming an earlier gas detection on the Red Planet by America's Curiosity rover. Signs of the hydrocarbon molecule rouses excitement because there is a possibility that it may be produced by biological processes, and therefore …

  1. Conundrum1885

    Could it be that the

    Mysterons like their Vindaloo and pints after a hard day of scoping out Earth for conquest?

    Its just possible. Also there have been suggestions that Mars is in fact geologically active as there have been recent signs of

    some level of seismic fluctuation suggesting underground magma.

    My hypothesis: the magma superheats pockets of methane dating back from a time when Mars did support life (about 1B years ago)

    during the late Hesperian, resulting in it leaking to the surface through existing micro fractures in the rock.

    In fact it is now believed that lakes on Mars persisted even longer as recently as 230M years ago in a few small areas where the salt

    content was particularly high.

    1. TheVogon

      Re: Could it be that the

      Maybe it was cow burps like much of the Earth's Methane comes from?

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    So someone didn't fart in Curiosity's general direction?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Of course not.In fact, the Martian cow was carefully backing around to stay out of view of the camera. They know what we've been up to on Earth, they don't want us going to Mars.

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The chances against anything manlike on Mars are a million to one

    "That night, too, there was another jetting out of gas from the distant planet. I saw it ... That night another invisible missile started on its way to the earth from Mars, just a second or so under twenty-four hours after the first one."

  4. AndrueC Silver badge

    What a pong.

    The first one smelt it.

    The second one felt it.

    The third one denied it.

    Alien microbesGeology supplied it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a pong.

      Geology supplied it.

      Areology, shirley?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a pong.

        As far as I can work out, areology would be the study of the surroundings of women's nipples.

        Probably more interesting than investigating farts if you can get the funding and the prosecution waiver.

  5. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Am I the only one ..

    .. who immediately recalled that rather amusing ad for Heinz beans?


    1. Alistair

      Re: Am I the only one ..

      Nope. Not at all.

      Personally, I'm thinking that if we ever *do* get below 4M down I'm guessing there's a combination of permafrost like layer and the stew that collects on the layer of sand underneath the topsoil in my back yard every spring after the thaw. It emits a rather distinct odour that tells me "Spring is here, just be ready for more snow anyway"

      (and, yes, actually, I am working on reviving that layer. I've a friend who was shocked when she found that the brand new development she lived in had only 6" of topsoil, and that the developer had replaced the next 5 feet down with sand)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Am I the only one ..

        Flash bugger with your sand. Where I live the garden is clay all the way down.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Am I the only one ..

          Ah, you're in line for a nuclear waste storage facility then. Just like UK's Houses of Parliament :).

  6. xyz

    has anyone....

    worked out if these episodes of Martian whiffery are associated with May letting off another brexit honker? Mind you I've no idea of the velocity of a fart in a vacuum.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: has anyone....

      Don't be silly!

      The May-bot does not fart, it is a machine...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: has anyone....

        If so, its manufacturer is clearly not ISO 9001 compliant.

        1. Bangem

          Re: has anyone....

          I think you mean ISO 14001

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: has anyone....

            No, 9001. It does not meet the declared specification ("Strong and stable government").

            1. Bangem

              Re: has anyone....

              I guess a joke loses something if you have to explain it. /sigh

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: has anyone....

      I've no idea of the velocity of a fart in a vacuum

      For the good of humanity, we ought to work that out. Feed a suitable quantity of politicians beans and let's get to it. I'd leave them at least 10 minutes in a vacuum, each, just to be sure.

      What? No, just haven't had my coffee yet.

  7. Diodelogic


    Uhm, I almost hate to break it to you folks, but methane doesn't have a distinctive smell--it is colourless and odourless*. That's why tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide are added to the methane in natural gas pipelines and storage containers--so that the human nose can detect a gas leak. At least, it is added here in the US, I don't know what other countries may do, if anything.

    *Look it up.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Whoopsie

      The easiest way to detect methane is to use a match or a lighter.

      1. swm Silver badge

        Re: Whoopsie

        In my daughters high school chemistry class the instructor asked how to find a gas leak. The instructor suggested using a match. The class responded, "No, use a flash light." So the instructor turned on a bunsen burner and followed the tubing around with a flash light and nothing happened. He repeated with a match and when he came to the bunsen burner part it ignited. He said, "See, the match works but not the flash light."

        Homework assignment: find out how the gas companies do it. Answer: soap suds.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Whoopsie

      the smelly stuff added to natural gas has more than just H2S in it but is a cocktail designed to be easily smelt, uniquely enough that people immediately think of natural gas leaks when it's smelled.

      But yeah, smelly stuff added to CH4 to make it detectable by smell.

      I think Methane Thiol [a 'poo stench'] is also in there.

      But yeah pretty much any gaseous material containing sulphur is gonna stink.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You guys all got it wrong

    It's the little green men, all hiding & living underground.

    They all got spooked when the craft landed and word got around of an alien object, the like of which they had never seen before.

    In a panic, they all let of a massive collective fart.

    Hence the Methane burp overground. Simplz.

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