Evidence for methane in martian meteorites

Nigel J. F. Blamey, John Parnell, Sean McMahon, Darren F. Mark, Tim Tomkinson, Lee Martin, Jared Shivak, Matthew R. M. Izawa, Neil R. Banerjee, Roberta L. Fleming

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Abstract

The putative occurrence of methane in the Martian atmosphere has had a major influence on the exploration of Mars, especially by the implication of active biology. The occurrence has not been borne out by measurements of atmosphere by the MSL rover Curiosity but, as on Earth, methane on Mars is most likely in the subsurface of the crust. Serpentinization of olivine-bearing rocks, to yield hydrogen that may further react with carbon-bearing species, has been widely invoked as a source of methane on Mars, but this possibility has not hitherto been tested. Here we show that some Martian meteorites, representing basic igneous rocks, liberate a methane-rich volatile component on crushing. The occurrence of methane in Martian rock samples adds strong weight to models whereby any life on Mars is/was likely to be resident in a subsurface habitat, where methane could be a source of energy and carbon for microbial activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7399
Number of pages7
JournalNature Communications
Volume6
Early online date16 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2015

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Meteoroids
SNC meteorites
Meteorites
Methane
Mars
methane
mars
Bearings (structural)
occurrences
Atmosphere
Carbon
Rocks
rocks
Igneous rocks
atmospheres
crushing
Exploratory Behavior
habitats
carbon
igneous rocks

Cite this

Blamey, N. J. F., Parnell, J., McMahon, S., Mark, D. F., Tomkinson, T., Martin, L., ... Fleming, R. L. (2015). Evidence for methane in martian meteorites. Nature Communications, 6, [7399]. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms8399

Evidence for methane in martian meteorites. / Blamey, Nigel J. F.; Parnell, John; McMahon, Sean; Mark, Darren F.; Tomkinson, Tim; Martin, Lee; Shivak, Jared ; Izawa, Matthew R. M.; Banerjee, Neil R.; Fleming, Roberta L. .

In: Nature Communications, Vol. 6, 7399, 16.06.2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Blamey, NJF, Parnell, J, McMahon, S, Mark, DF, Tomkinson, T, Martin, L, Shivak, J, Izawa, MRM, Banerjee, NR & Fleming, RL 2015, 'Evidence for methane in martian meteorites' Nature Communications, vol. 6, 7399. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms8399
Blamey NJF, Parnell J, McMahon S, Mark DF, Tomkinson T, Martin L et al. Evidence for methane in martian meteorites. Nature Communications. 2015 Jun 16;6. 7399. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms8399
Blamey, Nigel J. F. ; Parnell, John ; McMahon, Sean ; Mark, Darren F. ; Tomkinson, Tim ; Martin, Lee ; Shivak, Jared ; Izawa, Matthew R. M. ; Banerjee, Neil R. ; Fleming, Roberta L. . / Evidence for methane in martian meteorites. In: Nature Communications. 2015 ; Vol. 6.
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abstract = "The putative occurrence of methane in the Martian atmosphere has had a major influence on the exploration of Mars, especially by the implication of active biology. The occurrence has not been borne out by measurements of atmosphere by the MSL rover Curiosity but, as on Earth, methane on Mars is most likely in the subsurface of the crust. Serpentinization of olivine-bearing rocks, to yield hydrogen that may further react with carbon-bearing species, has been widely invoked as a source of methane on Mars, but this possibility has not hitherto been tested. Here we show that some Martian meteorites, representing basic igneous rocks, liberate a methane-rich volatile component on crushing. The occurrence of methane in Martian rock samples adds strong weight to models whereby any life on Mars is/was likely to be resident in a subsurface habitat, where methane could be a source of energy and carbon for microbial activity.",
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note = "Acknowledgements Meteorite samples were kindly provided by the University of New Mexico (Zagami), Caroline Smith, Natural History Museum, London (Nakhla), Robert Verish, Meteorite Recovery Laboratory, California (LA 002), Darryl Pitt, Macovich Collection, New York NWA 5790), Hideyasu Kojima, National Institute of Polar Research, Japan (Yamoto 000749) and the Meteorite Working Group, NASA Johnson Space Center (Miller 03346). D.M. is supported by the STFC (ST/H002472/1 & ST/K000918/1). S.McM. was supported by a STFC Aurora studentship.",
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N1 - Acknowledgements Meteorite samples were kindly provided by the University of New Mexico (Zagami), Caroline Smith, Natural History Museum, London (Nakhla), Robert Verish, Meteorite Recovery Laboratory, California (LA 002), Darryl Pitt, Macovich Collection, New York NWA 5790), Hideyasu Kojima, National Institute of Polar Research, Japan (Yamoto 000749) and the Meteorite Working Group, NASA Johnson Space Center (Miller 03346). D.M. is supported by the STFC (ST/H002472/1 & ST/K000918/1). S.McM. was supported by a STFC Aurora studentship.

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N2 - The putative occurrence of methane in the Martian atmosphere has had a major influence on the exploration of Mars, especially by the implication of active biology. The occurrence has not been borne out by measurements of atmosphere by the MSL rover Curiosity but, as on Earth, methane on Mars is most likely in the subsurface of the crust. Serpentinization of olivine-bearing rocks, to yield hydrogen that may further react with carbon-bearing species, has been widely invoked as a source of methane on Mars, but this possibility has not hitherto been tested. Here we show that some Martian meteorites, representing basic igneous rocks, liberate a methane-rich volatile component on crushing. The occurrence of methane in Martian rock samples adds strong weight to models whereby any life on Mars is/was likely to be resident in a subsurface habitat, where methane could be a source of energy and carbon for microbial activity.

AB - The putative occurrence of methane in the Martian atmosphere has had a major influence on the exploration of Mars, especially by the implication of active biology. The occurrence has not been borne out by measurements of atmosphere by the MSL rover Curiosity but, as on Earth, methane on Mars is most likely in the subsurface of the crust. Serpentinization of olivine-bearing rocks, to yield hydrogen that may further react with carbon-bearing species, has been widely invoked as a source of methane on Mars, but this possibility has not hitherto been tested. Here we show that some Martian meteorites, representing basic igneous rocks, liberate a methane-rich volatile component on crushing. The occurrence of methane in Martian rock samples adds strong weight to models whereby any life on Mars is/was likely to be resident in a subsurface habitat, where methane could be a source of energy and carbon for microbial activity.

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