Discovering the presence of methane on Mars

NASA has announced that it was discovered the presence of methane in the atmosphere of Mars.
A team of scientists has identified the presence of methane in the atmosphere of Mars by observing carefully the planet for several years with the Infrared Telescope and the WM Keck telescope located on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
The team of scientists has used the spectrometers to break light into its component colors, such as a prism breaks white light into different colors, and have identified three spectral features called absorption lines whose presence together is considered proof of the presence of methane . Researchers is still not clear the origin of methane. The methane could come from biological processes such as digestion of nutrients, or by geological processes such as oxidation of iron.
In any case this information, "tell us that the planet is still alive," said Michael Mumm of the Goddard Space Flight Center.
More information is available on this page, and this page.
According to Science the answer to this question may be provided by the new Mars Science Laboratory rover, whose launch is planned for 2011.

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