Research

Carbon’s role in atmosphere formation

Greenhouse effect on the Red Planet?

Early on, Mars had giant active volcanoes, which would have released significant methane. Because of methane’s high greenhouse potential, even a thin atmosphere might have supported liquid water. Credit: NASA

A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the way carbon moves from within a planet to the surface plays a big role in the evolution of a planet's atmosphere. If Mars released much of its carbon as methane, for example, it might have been warm enough to support liquid water.