Detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars

Science. 2004 Dec 3;306(5702):1758-61. doi: 10.1126/science.1101732. Epub 2004 Oct 28.


We report a detection of methane in the martian atmosphere by the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer onboard the Mars Express spacecraft. The global average methane mixing ratio is found to be 10 +/- 5 parts per billion by volume (ppbv). However, the mixing ratio varies between 0 and 30 ppbv over the planet. The source of methane could be either biogenic or nonbiogenic, including past or present subsurface microorganisms, hydrothermal activity, or cometary impacts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Archaea
  • Atmosphere
  • Bacteria
  • Exobiology
  • Extraterrestrial Environment
  • Hydrogen
  • Mars*
  • Meteoroids
  • Methane*
  • Pressure
  • Spacecraft
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Volcanic Eruptions
  • Water


  • Water
  • Hydrogen
  • Methane