No detection of methane on Mars from early ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter observations

  title={No detection of methane on Mars from early ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter observations},
  author={Oleg I. Korablev and Ann Carine Vandaele and Franck Montmessin and Anna A. Fedorova and Alexander Trokhimovskiy and François Forget and Franck Lef{\'e}vre and Frank Daerden and Ian R. Thomas and Lo{\"i}c Trompet and Justin T. Erwin and Shohei Aoki and S{\'e}verine Robert and Lori Neary and S{\'e}bastien Viscardy and Alexey V. Grigoriev and Nikolay I. Ignatiev and Alexey V. Shakun and Andrey Patrakeev and Denis A. Belyaev and J L Bertaux and Kevin S. Olsen and Lucio Baggio and Juan Alday and Yu. S. Ivanov and Bojan Ristic and John Mason and Yannick Willame and C{\'e}dric Depiesse and Laszlo Hetey and Sophie Berkenbosch and Roland Clairquin and Claudio Queirolo and Bram Beeckman and Eddy Neefs and Manish R. Patel and Giancarlo Bellucci and J{\'o}se Juan Lopez‐Moreno and Colin F. Wilson and Giuseppe Etiope and Lev M. Zelenyi and H{\aa}kan Svedhem and Jorge L. Vago},
The detection of methane on Mars has been interpreted as indicating that geochemical or biotic activities could persist on Mars today1. A number of different measurements of methane show evidence of transient, locally elevated methane concentrations and seasonal variations in background methane concentrations2–5. These measurements, however, are difficult to reconcile with our current understanding of the chemistry and physics of the Martian atmosphere6,7, which—given methane’s lifetime of… 

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Low Upper Limit to Methane Abundance on Mars

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Observed variations of methane on Mars unexplained by known atmospheric chemistry and physics

It is found that photochemistry as currently understood does not produce measurable variations in methane concentrations, even in the case of a current, local and episodic methane release, and that the condensation–sublimation cycle of Mars’ carbon dioxide atmosphere can generate large-scale methane variations differing from those observed.

Independent confirmation of a methane spike on Mars and a source region east of Gale Crater

Reports of methane detection in the Martian atmosphere have been intensely debated. The presence of methane could enhance habitability and may even be a signature of life. However, no detection has

Background levels of methane in Mars’ atmosphere show strong seasonal variations

In situ measurements at Gale crater made over a 5-year period by the Tunable Laser Spectrometer on the Curiosity rover show large seasonal variation in the background and occurrences of higher temporary spikes that are consistent with small localized sources of methane released from martian surface or subsurface reservoirs.

Mars methane detection and variability at Gale crater

Curiosity confirms the presence and variability of atmospheric methane, implying episodic production from an unknown source, and reports of plumes or patches of methane in the martian atmosphere that vary over monthly time scales have defied explanation.

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This work highlights the types of features on Mars that could be associated with methane release, including mud-volcano-like mounds in Acidalia or Utopia; proposed ancient springs in Gusev Crater, Arabia Terra, and Valles Marineris; and rims of large impact craters.

Methane on Mars and Habitability: Challenges and Responses

Geological, geochemical, and biogeochemical processes related to the fundamental question: how active is Mars, geochemically and/or biologically, are examined, which suggests the possibility of redox gradients supporting life and habitability on Mars.