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Life on MarsWhat to Know Before We Go$
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David A. Weintraub

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691209258

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691209258.001.0001

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

(p.221) 14 Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Life on Mars

David A. Weintraub

Princeton University Press

This chapter talks about Mike Mumma and his team, which chronologically is the first group to publicly stake a claim to having discovered methane in the atmosphere of Mars in 2003. It explores the May 2003 abstract that served as a placeholder for a presentation Mumma would give at an American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences meeting. It also cites Mumma's report on his team's attempt to detect methane on Mars using three different telescopes: NASA's 3-meter Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), the 8-meter Gemini South telescope in Chile, and the 10-meter Keck-2 telescope. The chapter provides the details of Mumma's measurements that show that the level of methane in the Martian atmosphere was about 10 parts per billion, averaged across the full atmosphere of Mars. It points out how all the early 2004 announcements about methane on Mars received immediate attention in the popular press.

Keywords:   Mike Mumma, methane, Mars, Infrared Telescope Facility, IRTF, Gemini South telescope, Keck-2 telescope

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