View Full Version : Methane Producing Bacteria Found in the Desert

2005-Nov-02, 06:08 PM
SUMMARY: Researchers have discovered methane-producing microbes in some of the most inhospitable deserts here in Earth, bolstering the theory that methane detected in the Martian atmosphere was caused by life. The scientists collected soil samples near the Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah desert. They added a growth medium to the soil, and detected methane gas being released. This isn't conclusive evidence of life on Mars, but it helps make the case that microbial life can and might exist on the Martian surface.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/methane_producing_bacteria_desert.html)
What do you think about this story? post your comments below.

2005-Nov-02, 11:28 PM
I think it's a good finding ... one in eight samples from one site return a positive signal ... suggests we need to take more than one or two samples on Mars before making any definitive conclusions ...

2005-Nov-03, 12:05 AM
Is it possible that methane can be produced through artificial means, or already does exist without life being factored?

Other than that, interesting find.

2005-Nov-03, 12:12 AM
Is it possible that methane can be produced through artificial means, or already does exist without life being factored.

NASA Astrobiology Magazine: Part 2: Methane on Earth (http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1657)

Although nearly all methane on Earth has a biological origin, scientists have recently begun to appreciate how many ways abiogenic methane can be generated. The essential precondition for abiogenic methane, says Juske Horita of the Chemical Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, is the presence of molecular hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

"If you put CO2 and hydrogen together, thermodynamics dictates that it has to go to methane," says Horita.
Most abiogenic methane is generated by the "serpentinization" reaction, which forms the mineral serpentine. At mid-oceanic ridges, water heated by magma reacts with rocks like olivine, which contain high levels of the catalysts iron and magnesium. During serpentinization, hydrogen liberated from water reacts with carbon from carbon dioxide to form methane. The reaction creates heat and vast deposits of serpentine on the ocean floor.

See also:

Part 1: Interplanetary Whodunit (http://www.astrobio.net/news/article1651.html)
Part 3: Mystery Methane Maker (http://www.astrobio.net/news/article1660.html)
Part 4: Proving the Case (http://www.astrobio.net/news/article1665.html)