Atmospheric Processes Affecting Methane On Mars

By Keith Cowing
February 10, 2022
Filed under
Atmospheric Processes Affecting Methane On Mars
Profiles showing CH4 loss rates (molecules cm-3 s-1) calculated by the BLACKWOLF model for the Mars control run (scenario 3.1).

It is currently uncertain as to whether methane exists on Mars. Data from the Curiosity Rover suggests a background methane concentration of a few tenths parts per billion whereas data from the Trace Gas Orbiter suggest an upper limit of twenty parts per trillion.

If methane exists on Mars then we do not understand fully the physical and chemical processes affecting its lifetime. Atmospheric models suggest an over-estimate in the lifetime by a factor of around six hundred compared with earlier observations. In the present work we assume the Curiosity Rover background methane value and estimate the uncertainty in atmospheric chemistry and mixing processes in our atmospheric column model 1D TERRA.

Results suggest that these processes can only explain a factor of ~sixteen lowering in the methane lifetime. This implies that if methane is present then additional, currently unknown processes are required to explain the observed lifetime.

John Lee Grenfell, Fabian Wunderlich, Miriam Sinnhuber, Konstantin Herbst, Ralph Lehmann, Markus Scheucher, Stefanie Gebauer, Gabrielle Arnold, Heike Rauer

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2202.04325 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2202.04325v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: John Lee Grenfell
[v1] Wed, 9 Feb 2022 08:21:02 UTC (2,424 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻