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    Meteorite from Australia May Expalin How Methane is in Mars' Atmosphere

    June 26, 2012; 8:05 AM ET

    For a while now, researchers have struggled explaining how methane got into the atmosphere of Mars.

    Well, now there is an interesting theory to explain it.

    Researchers have discovered that when meteorites (in this case they used a 40-year-old meteorite from Australia called the Murchison meteorite) are exposed to similar ultraviolet radiation as to what they would be exposed to on Mars, part of the meteorite breaks down and releases methane gas.

    Why is this a big deal? Well, methane contains carbon, which is a major building block for life. People who believe or who want to/are looking for life on Mars need the prescence of carbon if the life-forms are comparable to what they are on Earth. If it is a completely different life-form that does not use carbon, then this study means nothing. However, when we look for life on other planets, we generally assume life-forms with the same building blocks that we find here (ie. carbon, oxygen, temperature range close to what we find here).

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