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Martian methane plume models for defining Mars rover methane source search strategies

  • Christopher Nicol (a1), Alex Ellery (a1), Brian Lynch (a1), Ed Cloutis (a2) and Guido de Croon (a3)...

The detection of atmospheric methane on Mars implies an active methane source. This introduces the possibility of a biotic source with the implied need to determine whether the methane is indeed biotic in nature or geologically generated. There is a clear need for robotic algorithms which are capable of manoeuvring a rover through a methane plume on Mars to locate its source. We explore aspects of Mars methane plume modelling to reveal complex dynamics characterized by advection and diffusion. A statistical analysis of the plume model has been performed and compared to analyses of terrestrial plume models. Finally, we consider a robotic search strategy to find a methane plume source. We find that gradient-based techniques are ineffective, but that more sophisticated model-based search strategies are unlikely to be available in near-term rover missions.

Corresponding author
Author for correspondence: Alex Ellery,
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International Journal of Astrobiology
  • ISSN: 1473-5504
  • EISSN: 1475-3006
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-astrobiology
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