Geological events are capable of releasing methane, but there is no evidence of recent geological activity on Mars. You know what else is capable of releasing methane? Life.
The methane might of course originate from some hitherto unknown geological activity, but one that would require liquid water and lava flows. So, unless some radically new concept of methane production emerges, it looks like Mars has stashed away either water or life -- or both. That's right -- science might be on the verge of discovering living alien life forms. All of those shitty sci-fi writers in the '50s were right!
Only the '50s, though. The rest are still bullshit.
OK, so we might not need to build a fleet of anti-Martian star cruisers just yet. The reigning theory is that there might be some forms of micro-organisms below Mars' surface, as primitive bacteria on Earth release methane as a byproduct of their biological processes. And then we have that infamous meteorite.
The Martian invasion has had kind of a slow start.
Do you remember this from a few years ago? When people were claiming they found a rock that proved Mars had life? In 1984, a team of meteorite hunters tracked and found it in Antarctica. It has since been dated with four different dating techniques, and was shown to be around 4 billion years old -- the oldest rock on Earth by far. On its surface, many strange mineral formations were found, prompting scientists to study it obsessively ever since. The latest, most technologically advanced analysis done in 2009 concluded basically nothing.
Basically nothing. They did find out one thing: The formations must have occurred in liquid. So they set out sciencing the shit out of the meteorite, dubbed ALH 84001. As years passed, scientist after scientist found they were unable to reproduce the meteorite's formations using inorganic chemical processes, which would seem to suggest they were created by something organic. As in living. Now, that doesn't mean there is life on Mars -- even if there were ancient fossilized alien bacteria, 4 billion years is a long damn time. Surely, their little bacteria civilization would've died out millions of years ago.
Then again ... if they did, who the hell is making all the methane?
It's always the simplest explanation, right?
Budd Erickson is a freelance philosopher and writer, contact him at email@example.com.
For reasons to fear space and shoot guns at it, check out 7 Bizarre Sounds From Outer Space and 5 Cosmic Events That Could Kill You Before Lunch.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn about David Wong's moon base.
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