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No detection of methane on Mars from early ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter observations
(Space Research Institute (IKI), Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Moscow, Russia)
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6479-2236
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4492-9650
European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
Number of Authors: 422019 (English)In: Nature, ISSN 0028-0836, E-ISSN 1476-4687, Vol. 568, p. 517-520Article in journal, Letter (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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 concentrations2,3,4,5. 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 several centuries—predicts an even, well mixed distribution of methane1,6,8. Here we report highly sensitive measurements of the atmosphere of Mars in an attempt to detect methane, using the ACS and NOMAD instruments onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter from April to August 2018. We did not detect any methane over a range of latitudes in both hemispheres, obtaining an upper limit for methane of about 0.05 parts per billion by volume, which is 10 to 100 times lower than previously reported positive detections2,4. We suggest that reconciliation between the present findings and the background methane concentrations found in the Gale crater4 would require an unknown process that can rapidly remove or sequester methane from the lower atmosphere before it spreads globally.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nature Publishing Group, 2019. Vol. 568, p. 517-520
Keywords [en]
detection, methane, Mars, ExoMars mission, Trace Gars Orbiter
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Research subject
Atmospheric science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-73581DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1096-4ISI: 000465594200044Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85064268492OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-73581DiVA, id: diva2:1304037
Available from: 2019-04-11 Created: 2019-04-11 Last updated: 2019-05-07Bibliographically approved

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Martin-Torres, JavierZorzano Mier, María-Paz

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