The Michigan Engineer News Center

Climate & Space Prof. Atreya comments on Mars methane emissions for New York Times

“It reaffirms the hypothesis that Mars is presently active..."| Short Read
EnlargeClimate & Space Prof. Sushil Atreya
IMAGE:  Climate & Space Prof. Sushil Atreya

Climate & Space Prof. Sushil Atreya recently commented in a New York Times article that talks about possible reasons for the presence of methane gas on the Red Planet. For decades the existence of the gas in the Martian atmosphere was the subject of some debate among planetary scientists, as the plumes didn’t fit with what they understood about the planet. The community has come to accept the idea in the recent years, but the question remains as to why the gas is there.

From the article:

“The presence of methane is significant because the gas decays quickly. Calculations indicate that sunlight and chemical reactions in the thin Martian atmosphere would break up the molecules within a few hundred years, so any methane detected must have been created recently.

“It might have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life — specifically methanogens, microbes that release methane as a waste product. Methanogens thrive in places lacking oxygen, such as rocks deep underground and the digestive tracts of animals.

“Even if the source of the methane turns out to be geological, the hydrothermal systems that produce the emissions would still be prime locations to search for signs of life.”

Read the full article:

Climate & Space Prof. Sushil Atreya
The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read