A team of scientists has discovered traces of methane in some meteorites that have fallen from Mars.
The fact that there is methane in Mars meteorites suggests that there may have existed life on the Red Planet.
Researchers who discovered traces of methane in some of the Mars meteorites that have fallen on Earth say that the Red Planet may have underground habitable environments that could be compared to some that lie deep in the Earth.
Scientists have detailed their findings in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications.
Nigel Blamey, a geochemist at the Brock University in Canada and one of the lead authors of the new study, explained that although they have discovered methane in Mars meteorites doesn’t necessarily mean that there was once life on the Red Planet.
He added that methane is a compound that could potentially support microbial life on Mars.
The researchers examined samples taken from six meteorites that have fallen on our planet millions of years ago.
When the scientists broke down the samples, they discovered significant amounts of hydrogen and methane, hidden in small pockets inside the meteorites.
Blamey said they were surprised to see how much methane the meteorites contained.
While most of the methane is a byproduct of life on Earth, the scientists explained in their study that methane can also be produced through other means, for example, volcanic activity.
According to the experts, methane can also be produced by the chemical interaction between ancient volcanic rocks and Mars’ thin atmosphere.
The scientists believe that while Mars has a very hostile surface and the existence of life may seem impossible, the fact that there is methane under its surface could mean there is a possibility of microbial life.
Blamey said that although scientists have yet to discover forms of life on Mars, the existence of methane could support the theory that there are microbes beneath the Red Planet’s surface.
Scientists recently discovered evidence of methane in the Martian atmosphere using NASA’s Curiosity rover.
John Parnell, a scientist at the University of Aberdeen, says that one of the most significant discoveries since they have been exploring Mars is the suggestion that methane could exist in the Martian atmosphere.
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