Methane a sign of life - what drives its dynamics on Mars?

Project: Research

Project Details


The dominant source of methane (CH4) on Earth is biological and thus a sign of life. Therefore, the discovery of CH4 in the Martian atmosphere was sensational and attracted a lot of attention both within the science community and in the public. Since its discovery, we have learned that the concentration of CH4 on Mars is very dynamic and follows an annual cycle with relatively high concentration during Martian summer and low concentration during winter. Until now the drivers behind this dynamic pattern remain enigmatic as photochemistry which stands behind most atmospheric processes on Mars is too slow to explain the rapid decline. I propose that wind-driven erosion processes as known from dust-devils and/or sand storms can work as rapid CH4 sinks and that CH4 is converted to complex organic molecules that accumulate on the surface of the dust. The outcome of this study will make significant new contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms that stand behind the production and degradation of organics on the Red planet.
Short titleMethane on Mars
Effective start/end date01/08/202131/07/2023


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