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Proceedings Paper

Likelihood of methane-producing microbes on Mars
Author(s): Joseph D. Miller; Marianne J. Case; Patricia Ann Straat; Gilbert V. Levin
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Paper Abstract

We present a likelihood estimate that methane was a significant component of the gas detected by the Labeled Release (LR) experiment in the Viking Mission to Mars of 1976. In comparison with terrestrial methanogen production of methane we estimate the size of the putative microbe population necessary to produce the LR gas, had it been primarily methane. We extrapolate that figure to estimate the number of methanogens necessary to produce the methane content of the Martian atmosphere. Next, we estimate the amount of Martian soil and the amount of water needed for that global population of microbes. Finally, assuming a globally distributed population of such microbes, we estimate the likely sub-surface depth at which such methanogens could be detected.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 September 2010
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 7819, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII, 78190I (7 September 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.862230
Show Author Affiliations
Joseph D. Miller, The Univ. of Southern California (United States)
Marianne J. Case, Univ. of California, Irvine (United States)
Patricia Ann Straat, National Institutes of Health (Ret) (United States)
Gilbert V. Levin, Arizona State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7819:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; Paul C. W. Davies, Editor(s)

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