Ancient Mars May Have Been Warmed By Methane

Posted: Jan 25 2017, 5:22am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Ancient Mars may Have Been Warmed by Methane
SEAS researchers suggest that early Mars may have been warmed intermittently by a powerful greenhouse effect, possibly explaining water on the planet's surface billions of years ago. Credit: NASA

Bursts of methane may have warmed early Mars The findings of a new research reveal that early Mars may have been warmed intermittently by powerful bursts of methane.

Water on ancient Mars is considered a paradox, and the geographical evidence found by space scientists show that there was periodic flow of rivers on Mars, but 4 billion years ago, mars was too cold to hold liquid water. But, the question is how water remained warm in that time.

A research team suggested that Mars was warmed due to greenhouse effect through methane. The researchers were from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and the research study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The study found the a between carbon, methane and hydrogen in ancient Martian surface that created heat, causing the planet to hold liquid as water.

Ancient Mars is unique, because life was possible there unlike other planets, said Robin Wordsworth, assistant professor of environmental science and engineering at SEAS, and first author of the paper. He also said that by understand Mars surface we can also find life on other planets.

Scientists say that 4 billion years ago sun was 30 percent less hot than today, so mars surface trapped the rays and became hot, so scientists have been researching since ages to see how mars was insulated.

Scientists say that carbon dioxide also can’t heat Mars, especially in ancient mars, so there was something else.

The rocky planets on mars emit hydrogen from time to time, and the researchers especially studied methane on mars that’s not much on Mars now.

But, the research studied found that billions of years before, certain geological compositions on Mars created methane. The methane then changed to other gases, including hydrogen through a slow process similar to that on Saturn’s titan.

Scientists found that combination of methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide creates severe radiations that caused greenhouse effect on Mars.

The research team hopes to discover more through future Mars missions. Ancient mars show the signs of life due to complex chemistry, said Wordsworth.

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