KECK INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES

       

Methane on Mars

December 7-11, 2015
California Institute of Technology - Pasadena, CA 91125

Workshop Overview:

We will investigate and explore the best route for solving the profound puzzles arising from the recent ground-truth detection of methane on Mars by the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) onboard Curiosity [Webster et al. 2014]. This discovery reorients our understanding of the Martian environment and its potential for life.

The current theoretical framework of Mars does not entail any active source of CH4, and it is predicted to have a lifetime of ~300 years in the Martian atmosphere - far shorter than the planet's age [Summers et al. 2002, Nair et al. 2005, Atreya et al. 2007, Lefevre & Forget 2009]. Hence, methane's atmospheric existence requires a continually replenishing source, potentially subverting assumptions of a geologically and biologically dead Mars [Allen et al. 2006]. Furthermore, methane's high variability despite fast atmospheric mixing (compared to its atmospheric lifetime) defies explanation. This discovery necessitates a new era of research pursuing answers to the questions: What is generating methane, and how is it destroyed or sequestered on Mars?

This image illustrates possible ways methane might be added to Mars' atmosphere (sources) and removed from the atmosphere (sinks). NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has detected fluctuations in methane concentration in the atmosphere, implying both types of activity occur on modern Mars.

Under this program, an interdisciplinary group of experts will develop an exploration and technology-development strategy for resolving methane sources and sinks on Mars. Existing hypotheses of Martian methane sources include gas-water-rock chemistry and microbes (methanogens). If proven, the former implies the existence of environs offering liquid water and chemical sources of energy - i.e. habitability - while the latter implies the discovery of life on Mars. Solving these puzzles innately requires a concerted research effort across many disciplines and major technological advancements, including new measurement and exploration capabilities and methodologies. KISS's unique think-and-do-tank approach, along with Caltech/JPL's leadership in Mars exploration makes this program arguably the world's best platform for catalyzing the synthesis of a grand strategy.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Salvatori Seminar Room - South Mudd Building, Caltech

Short Course: Methane on Mars - The Fundamentals

Introductory Lectures - Open to all interested students, researchers and faculty
Time
Event
Speaker

8:00 - 8:30

Coffee and Refreshments

8:30 - 8:40

Logistics / Introduction

Michele Judd

Yuk Yung

8:40 - 9:20

Geology: History of Liquid Water on Mars

Bethany Ehlmann

9:20 - 10:00

Biology: Potential Life in the Martian Context

Ken Nealson

10:00 - 10:30

Break

10:30 - 11:10

Atmospheric Dynamics: Martian Climate History

Michael Mischna

11:10 - 11:50

Atmospheric Chemistry and Methane Measurements

Chris Webster

11:50 - 12:30

Methane Attribution: Biotic and Abiotic Methane Sources and How to Differentiate Them

Barbara Sherwood Lollar

12:30 - 1:30

Informal Lunch Salvatori Patio and End of Short Course

 

Invitation-Only Workshop Begins
Keck Center - Think Tank, Room 155

1:30 - 2:00

Walk to Keck Center for Coffee and Registration

2:00 - 2:45

Workshop Logistics and Introduction to KISS

Michele Judd

2:45 - 3:00

30 second Participant Introductions

Michele Judd

3:00 - 4:00

Vision and goals for the workshop

Team Leads

4:00 - 4:30

Break

4:30 - 5:30

Begin plenary discussion on workshop format; organize lightning talks

Team Leads

5:30 - 6:00

Pack up and walk to Athenaeum

6:00

Reception, dinner at the Athenaeum


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Keck Center - Think Tank, Room 155

Time
Event
Speaker

8:00 - 8:30

Coffee and Refreshments

8:30 - 8:45

Summary re-cap of day one and goals for day two

Michele Judd

Team Leads

Lightning Talks

8:45 - 9:10

Topical Question:  “How certain is the existence of methane and Its geographic and temporal distribution on Mars?”

Michael Mumma

9:10 – 9:35

Topical Question:  “What are the required fluxes to explain the observations?”

Franck Lefevre

9:35 – 10:00

Topical Question:  “What are the potential methane sources and sinks?”

Yuk Yung

10:00 -10:30

Break

10:30 – 10:55

Topical Question:  “What are the characteristics of seepage, how to measure them, and what drilling technologies are available?”

Giuseppe Etiope

10:55 – 11:20

Topical Question:  “What is our current state of understanding of thermal properties, transport/seepage, water abundances, aquifers, and possibility of high salinity aquifers that remain liquid throughout the Martian year?”

Bethany Ehlmann

11:20 – 11:45

Topic:  “Deliquescence and 13CO2 isotope composition on Mars”

Renyu Hu

11:45 - 12:00

Discussion of Breakout topics

Team Leads

12:00 - 2:00

Poster Session and informal food truck dinner at the Keck Center

2:00 - 2:45

MarsDrop

Robert Staehle

Sara Spangelo

2:45 - 4:00

Breakout Groups

All

4:00 - 4:30

Break

4:30 - 5:30

Breakout Groups

All

5:30 - 6:00

Report outs and Plenary Discussion

All

6:00

Optional no-host dinner in Pasadena (KISS to pay for postdocs and grad students)


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Keck Center - Think Tank, Room 155

Time
Event
Speaker

8:00 - 8:30

Coffee and Refreshments

8:30 - 8:45

Logistics; Summary re-cap of day two and goals for day three

Michele Judd

Team Leads

8:45 - 9:30

The ACS and NOMAD Instruments onboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

Francois Forget

9:30 - 10:00

Lightni ng talk(s)

TBD

10:00 - 10:30

Break

10:30 - 11:30

Plenary Discussion and select breakout topics

All

11:30 - 12:30

Brainstorm in small groups

All

12:30 - 2:00

Lunch at the Athenaeum

2:00 - 3:30

Continue brainstorm in small groups

All

3:30 - 4:00

Break

4:00 - 4:45

Group report outs

All

4:45 - 6:00

Plenary Discussion and select breakout topics for tomorrow

All

6:00

Optional no-host dinner in Pasadena (KISS to pay for postdocs and grad students)


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Keck Center - Think Tank, Room 155

Time
Event
Speaker

8:00 - 8:30

Coffee and Refreshments

8:30 - 8:45

Logistics: Summary re-cap of daythree and goals for day four

Michele Judd

Team Leads

8:45 - 10:00

Lightning talks and determine new breakout group makeup

10:00 -10:30

Break

10:30 - 12:30

Breakouts

12:30 - 2:00

Lunch at the Athenaeum

2:00 - 3:00

Plenary report out of breakout groups

3:00 - 4:00

Plenary discussion of what remains to be done before the end of the workshop

4:00 - 4:30

Break

4:30 - 5:45

Small group/ individual working session

6:00

Dinner at the Athenaeum - spouses, significant others welcome


Friday, December 11, 2015

Keck Center - Think Tank, Room 155

Time
Event
Speaker

8:00 - 8:30

Coffee and Refreshments

8:30 - 8:45

Logistics and Objectives

Michele Judd

Team Leads

8:45 - 10:00

Final plenary discussion

10:00 -10:30

Break

10:30- 11:30

Report out and finalization of interim topics of study

Study Leads

11:30 - 12:00

Action plan for interim session - what needs to happen by September?

Study Leads

12:00 - 12:30

Workshop closeout

Michele Judd

12:30

END of workshop

Workshop Participants:

  • Patrick Beckett - JPL/Caltech
  • Pin Chen - JPL/Caltech
  • Bethany Ehlmann - Caltech Campus
  • John Eiler - Caltech Campus
  • Giuseppe Etiope - Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia
  • Francois Forget  - CNRS
  • Peter Gao - Caltech Campus
  • Renyu Hu - JPL/Caltech
  • Armin Kleinboehl - JPL/Caltech
  • Franck Lefevre - CNRS
  • Charles Miller - JPL/Caltech
  • Michael Mischna - JPL/Caltech
  • Michael Mumma - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Kenneth Nealson - University of Southern California
  • Mitchio Okumura - Caltech Campus
  • Ronald  Oremland - US Geological Survey
  • Victoria Orphan - Caltech Campus
  • Michael Russell - JPL/Caltech
  • Linhan Shen - Caltech Campus
  • Barbara Sherwood Lollar - University of Toronto
  • Vlada Stamenkovic - Caltech Campus/JPL
  • Daniel Stolper - Princeton University
  • Chris Webster - JPL/Caltech
  • Paul O.  Wennberg - Caltech Campus
  • Michael Wong - Caltech Campus
  • Yuk Yung – Caltech Campus

Short Course Presentations

B. Ehlmann,
Caltech Campus

The History of Liquid Water on Mars
(5.45 MB .pdf)

(video)

K. Nealson,
USC
Life in the Martian Context
(758 KB .pdf)
(video)
M. Mischna,
JPL/Caltech
Atmospheric Dynamics: Martian Climate History
(3.87 MB .pdf)

(video)
B. Sherwood Lollar,
University of Toronto
Differentiation of Biotic and Abiotic CH4: Lessons from terrestrial analogs
(8 MB .pdf)
(video)

C. Webster,
JPL/Caltech

Atmospheric Chemistry and Methane Measurements
(4.89 MB .pdf)

(video)


Workshop Presentations

S. Atreya,
University of Michigan
Origin of Mars methane, now or in the past
(4 MB .pdf)

B. Ehlmann,
Caltech Campus

Some background on (1) Martian heatflow, (2) water and physical properties of the Mars subsurface, (3) water‐rock reactions, (4) places of escape of methane
(3.64 MB .pdf)

G. Etiope,
Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia
Potential CH4 seepage on Mars
(23.4 MB .pdf)
F. Forget
CNRS
The Exomars Trace Gas Orbiter and the search for Methane
(7.56 MB .pdf)
R. Hu
JPL/Caltech
Hypotheses for Near-Surface Exchange of Methane on Mars
(4.5 MB .pdf)
F. Lefèvre,
LATMOS, Paris
Martian methane: Fluxes, Lifetimes etc
(4.53 MB .pdf)
C. Miller,
JPL/Caltech
Methane on Mars: Arctic Methanogenesis Analogs
(279 KB .pdf)
M. Mumma,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Methane on Mars: Spatial & Temporal Variability
(53.3 MB .pdf)

Mars Organics Observer
(13.8 MB .pdf)

R. Oremland
US Geological Survey

Cryptic Anaerobic Oxidation of Methane (CAMO)

(1.66 MB .pdf)

R. Popa,
USC
SPEAR: Solitary Probe for Electrochemical Analysis and Reporting or Subsurface Penetrator for …
(1.39 MB .pdf)
M. Russell
JPL/Caltech
Workshop Notes
(77 KB .pdf)
L. Shen
Caltech Campus
Methane Source and Sink Attributions Using Cavity Ring-down Spectroscopy
(1.72 MB .pdf)
R. Staehle and S. Spangelo
JPL/Caltech
MarsDROP for Getting Small Payloads to Mars’ Surface: How many would you like, and where would you like them to help resolve questions about methane on Mars?
(8.14 MB .pdf)
P. Wennberg,
Caltech Campus
An Introducton to the Mars Atmospheric Trace Molecule Occultaton Spectrometer (MATMOS)
(7 MB .pdf)

Y. Yung,
Caltech Campus

Methane on Mars Study Program - Vision and Goals

(1.65 MB .pdf)


Poster Session

G. Etiope,
Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia

Fast Abiotic Production of Methane At Temperatures <100°C
(1 MB .pdf)

M. Mumma,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Methane and Related Trace Gases on Mars during 2003-2015, and planned extensions through 2016
(41.4 MB .pdf)

M. Russell
JPL/Caltech

Fluctuation relations, bioenergetics and the emergence of life
(1.54 MB .pdf)

Vlada Stamenkovic
Caltech Campus
Geodynamically Driven Temporal & Local Formation of Hydrogen & Hydrocarbons
(3 MB .pdf)