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Science finally confirms that Mars is farting

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James Neely
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For the first time, scientists may have confirmed that there's methane on Mars.

While we think of methane as the stinky gas that cows burp en masse, the presence of any molecule so frequently used and expelled by life on Earth may boost the chances that a world is habitable or perhaps even inhabited.

A paper published in Nature Geoscience on Monday lays out the detection of methane near Gale Crater on the surface of Mars on June 16, 2013, using instruments on the Mars Express orbiter.

What's important about that date is that NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane at Gale Crater a day earlier.

"This finding provides independent confirmation of debated measurements obtained by the Curiosity rover one day earlier," reads a release.

Curiosity's previous attempts to sniff out the gas before then came up empty, and some suggested that when the rover finally did detect methane it might have been smelling its own flatulence -- the robot carries a tiny amount of methane around inside it.

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James Neely
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