Methane released into the atmosphere can combust in electric storms to produce more
The heat of formation lost to the local environment is 130KJ/ mol. This heat generation
can go towards raising the temperature of a local environment to those required for
optimal growth and reproduction. However in cold conditions, methanogens are known
to survive in a dormant stage where only the minimal processes such as gene repair
can take place.
Given warm conditions, methanogens can double their numbers within three days and
this process takes place by one of four kinds of asexual divisions..
1) Binary division
So it can be seen that methanogens, given adequate conditions, can multiply exponentially
and the quantities of water produced by them also increases exponentially. Once formed,
water is a very stable compound.
A Different Atmosphere
If life had become established on Mars like it had on Earth by that stage, it would
have a different atmosphere from the one it has now. The atmosphere would have much
more oxygen - a bi-product of photosynthesis.
There would be more water vapour too, given off by plant life and providing a green-house
gas effect which would moderate the swing from warm daylight hours to plunging night
Nitrogen levels in Mars’s atmosphere would be much higher too. Denitrifying bacteria
on early Earth have given rise to the high percentage of nitrogen in the Earth’s
atmosphere. Anammox, an ancient type of bacteria, anaerobically oxidises ammonium
with nitrite to gaseous nitrogen (Nature 2003).
The following is a comparison of the atmospheres on Mars and Earth
Carbon dioxide 95.32 % 0.039 %
Nitrogen 2.7 % 78.08 %
Argon 1.6 % 0.934%
Oxygen 0.13 % 20.946 %
Carbon monoxide 0.077% 0.0001%
Water vapour 0.03 % 0.4 - 4%
Krypton 300 ppb 1100 ppb
In this comparison we need to consider that the atmospheric pressure on Mars is 0.7
% of Earth’s. Carbon dioxide levels on Earth have diminished greatly from the level
on Mars. This is due to carbon capture into biomass and carbonaceous sedimentary
rocks such as limestones and chalk - which are deposits of the shells of tiny organisms.
Nitrogen levels have soared above the levels on Mars - possibly entirely due to the
activity of denitrifying bacteria.
Oxygen levels have also soared on Earth as a result of the process of photosynthesis
in many forms of life. These two component gases have been responsible for the great
increase in atmospheric pressure seen on Earth over that on Mars.
The noble gases such as argon and krypton have maintained similar levels on both
planets and this is because they have not been involved in the processes of microbial
life on Earth.