Video: DDO Astronomy Night: Methane on Mars: Fact, Folly, or Figment? with Dr. John Moores

Methane on Mars: Fact, Folly, or Figment?

From the first announcement of its discovery in the atmosphere of Mars in 2003, methane has “punched above its weight” in our scientific imagination of the red planet. Because methane is quickly destroyed by the current chemistry active on Mars, it has to be supplied in the present day by some as yet unknown process. On the Earth, it is living systems that produce the abundant methane that we see in our atmosphere. This has prompted cautious excitement surrounding the idea that a martian biology working underground either today or in the past could be providing the methane needed to resupply the martian atmosphere. However, the reality is more complex. In this talk, Dr. John Moores will present a history of the investigation of Martian methane and discuss some of his own work on this topic before looking to our future hopes of unravelling the story of this mysterious gas.
Dr. John Moores is the York Research Chair in Space Exploration at York University. After having survived a department store telescope in his youth, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Engineering Science (Aerospace) from the University of Toronto and, later, a PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists as well as a Participating Scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mission, popularly known as the Curiosity Rover. After training on MER (Spirit & Opportunity Rovers) in 2004, he contributed to the 2005 Huygens Mission to Saturn's Moon Titan and the 2008 Phoenix Mission to the Martian Arctic. Dr. Moores is the Director of the Technologies for Exo/Planetary Science NSERC CREATE Program, a member of the Canadian Space Agency's Planetary Exploration Consultation Committee, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society's Scientific Committee and is the Associate Dean of Research for the Lassonde School of Engineering.