Analysis from the Curiosity Rover on Mars has detected tiny amounts of methane in the atmosphere. It is possible the origin of this detected methane is from methanogens deep below the subsurface.

My question is, how deep would we need to drill to reach a methane reservoir below the Martian soil? Once here, could this help us determine the origin of methane gas?


The origin of methane on Mars is still unknown. Methanogens may be the source & if so would prove life exists on Mars, but no-one yet knows. As to the depth of the source of methane on Mars, this too is unknown.

The presence of methane in Mars' atmosphere could be of geological origin.

One way to confirm the biological origin of methane would be to measure the isotope ratios of carbon and hydrogen, the two elements in methane. Life on Earth tends to use lighter isotopes, for example, more Carbon-12 than Carbon-13, because this requires less energy for bonding.

What is known is that the levels of methane in the atmosphere of Mars varies, but the variation is not due to seasonal changes. The reason for the variation is still unknown.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your response. I have been reading a few papers released in Science during June this year that suggested the variation is indeed seasonal. Here is one of those papers from Webster et al. science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6393/1093 $\endgroup$ – JulianAngussmith Oct 7 '18 at 23:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.