>> “Using the data available, we estimated rates of erosion on the surface of Mars and how important it could be in releasing methane,”
Much more impressive if they'd used the data unavailable.
Ever since methane was detected on Mars, boffins have been trying to find out how it got there. Research published in Scientific Reports on Monday has ruled out one source – rocks being eroded by wind. The presence of the hydrocarbon gas has excited the scientific community, since it can be produced via biological as well as …
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and the burps are when accumulated methane geysers past some underground water. That is assuming the 46 tonnes reported is the total release. There are many processes that could generate methane at depth and , while I'd squeal with delight to find life on Mars, Occam says rocks.
It is interesting how we still rely on anthropocentric thinking.
Bill Ockham has nothing to say on the subject. Because, if you were to have as much knowledge of the Earth as we do of Mars, based on actual exploration, you could have landed in an awful lot of places which would lead you to conclude that any methane came from rocks.
But based on the evidence of our own planet, the "obvious" conclusion is that life seems to get everywhere. It's just that Aristotle was enormously influential, despite so many of his statements being so obviously wrong.
Earth has been completely transformed by a few microorganisms. Then a few macro ones did so again, more so. Then one particular type did even more so!
The moon, is clear as day "dead" to life. Mars? The same, by a fraction of a degree the other way also. Colder, less light, no radiation protection.
Explorer for the learning, but don't pretend you might find something you know for certain is not there. A bit like promising the kids there is ice cream on a road trip, when you know you left it at home.
There's no evidence that Mars was always dead, in fact the magnetic hoops look like remnants of a proper field from when it was younger.
A full magnetic field around Mars would perform in the same way as earths, shield from charged radiation, prevent the atmosphere from being stripped away (atmosphere constantly appears from the rocks) which would shield the remaining radiation.
So 1-2 billion years ago Mars could well have had a full atmosphere and no radiation, quite unlike the intensely hostile moon bathed in constant deadly radiation.
Plant life would have been very interesting - as would the exact atmospheric mix. Less gravity but further from the sun could have had one vaguely similar to ours and I'd expect any life to be taller, more spindly and for ferns and fungi to do the best.
The death of Mars 4.2 billion years ago is a guess - an 'extreme extrapolation' in fact.
Given we can't even date the Sphinx it's a bit soon to be able to claim the date of something so far back in time most have no concept of it.
The fact Mars has enough magnetism left today to maintain pockets of air is an indication that it died a LOT sooner than 4.2 billion years ago.
Gravity is very important in controlling a planet's composition of the atmosphere yes, but without a magnetic field the solar wind simply strips the gases away.
A planet's dynamics are from outgassing (new gas!) and solar wind removal. The CO2 on venus is there largely because it's heavy and the sun has stripped the lighter gases away. It's an interesting subject.
"There's no evidence that Mars was always dead." There is no evidence that... well, there never was a red teapot orbiting the sun _at some point in time_.
That's the thing. It's a negative proof, and one based on assumptions and dreams. Not hard data.
It's a bit like saying, if I keep building car parks on the moon, eventually a car *will* turn up. Yes, carparks and cars are extremely highly correlated, but one causes/requires/invokes the other in one direction only, not the other.
There is actually still no evidence either way....
What evidence there is is that Mars lost its magnetic field early, if it ever had one strong enough to fend off solar wind, and that it had active volcanism and seas of liquid water. Basically, between the volcanism and the solar wind, it literally boiled itself dry...
The big question is: How long was the intermediate period where Mars did tick the boxes we currently understand are needed for Life to appear? ( And please bear in mind that those boxes amount to a set of circumstances that are utterly lethal to us.) And did those circumstances last long enough for life to proliferate and leave a mark we can recognise?
Remember.. early life on earth did not need light or oxygen. In fact, the latter was, and is, utterly lethal to even current anaerobic organisms running the same processes those early ancestors did. Early earth life consisted of chemotrophs living in a hot and acidic environment, exactly like the black smokers and other underwater volcanic vents nowadays on Earth. And their telltale deposits are the oldest fossils we have found.
So did Mars have a period where there were oceans with volcanic vents/fissures? yes. Did it last long enough to let early/proto life appear? Probably, especially since we're finding out that life on Earth started way earlier than previously thought, and that that start in and of itself is ridiculously "simple".
Will we ever find proof of this? If life started and lasted long enough, there should be some fossil telltale somewhere, if Mars' relentless erosion hasn't destroyed the evidence already. So good luck finding it.
Would it be possible that there's still life on Mars? Only underground if there happens to be enough water deep-surface. Just as here on earth, stuff could have survived deep underground. Again.. good luck finding it.. Only an Armageddon-style drill setup can get that deep.
So you can't say life never existed on Mars, since the conditions to let it appear certainly were there, and possibly long enough to leave a telltale mark. Have we found any of those marks? No, so there's no proof-positive either.
"Early earth life consisted of chemotrophs living in a hot and acidic environment"
It's a popular theory and of course may have been happening too, but I think Fred Hoyle was onto something with his theory of life swirling around the universe: panspermia.
We may also have not all originated the same way - remember the 15% of RH-ve people have no known earth source.
Why would it only be smelly if held in one particular hand or the other? Also, would you please elaborate which hand (left or right) is the one that causes it to be smelly? Or is it the holder's dominant hand? What if I'm ambidextrous? What if I only have one hand due to a horrible desk stapler incident, and now that is my dominant hand? Will I ever be able to hold methane without creating a stink, or am I just fscked? These are the questions that keep me up when I'm wanting to take a nap at work!
I believe the main gas in human farts is hydrogen, not methane, and that is why lighting them can be very dangerous. Methane emerging from a cow's rear end is too concentrated to go bang easily and doesn't diffuse too fast. Hydrogen rapidly diffuses in air and the resulting mixtures can have a very fast flame front which rapidly burns back to the origin.
Cows that have eaten the wrong stuff may produce hydrogen and there are tales of vets producing unexpected bangs.
Someone should point out to these "scientists" that oil shales will only occur where there is a high density of organic life.
An oil shale is a sedimentary rock containing a high percentage of hydrocarbons from dead organic material.
If those oil shales were in a position to be subject to wind erosion - and therefore on the surface - then the debate about life on Mars would already be over.
I think the point was that for the methane concentrations registered, the surface rocks would need to be something like oil shales, which they clearly aren't, so wind erosion is not the source.
But if Mars once had oceans with life in them, who's to say that there aren't organic residues such as oil shales deep underground?
I wonder if a similar weather erosion scenario caused the weathering of all the moon rocks and boulders. NASA photos show clear signs of rounded corners, differentially eroded sedimentary layers and of course most are clean of any dust, which all points to significant wind currents on the moon.
Yes, lots of weathering.
I spent a good while searching the NASA photos for a lunar rock with a sharp edge - didn't find one. All edges, on top or underneath are rounded off - clear signs of weathering.
Apollo 16 and 17 have some great photos of this BTW. Astronauts even lent against them - no danger of a suit rip or a dust stain, even the photos of them collecting them for samples show lovely rounded edges.
They even had geologist Schmitt examine the weathering patterns - Apollo 17 IIRC. NASA says the dust is sharp but their photos show the rocks are smooth - maybe there is a connection?
To the best of my knowledge, the only significant wind currents on the moon were circling 'round the astronauts in their suits. Seems the food caused some gastric (and olfactory) distress to the poor bastards.
Meanwhile, you know there was 'that one guy' in Mission Control that couldn't keep from laughing hysterically every time one of the astronauts hotboxed themselves.
Sounds like there may be an announcement very soon. Could all that methane be leaking from remnant underground life in caves?
Just how complex could life get assuming:
2) weak but significant geothermal energy
3) radioisotopic decay
4) relatively low temperature, say 278.15K
5) life started approximately the same time as Earth, say between 3 and 4GY ago.
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