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In space   A massive global warming event

Methane may have caused greenhouse effect on young Mars

MarsMars is covered in gullies and dry riverbeds, but scientists have always been baffled as to how water could have existed on the freezing world.

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But new research suggests water could have been able to exist thanks to a massive global warming event triggered by methane gas bursts.

Scientists and Harvard University believe this would have allowed water to exist on the planet, and thus it is possible life could have thrived.

Robin Wordsworth, assistant professor of environmental science and engineering, said: "Early Mars is unique in the sense that it's the one planetary environment, outside Earth, where we can say with confidence that there were at least episodic periods where life could have flourished.

ā€œIf we understand how early Mars operated, it could tell us something about the potential for finding life on other planets outside the solar system.ā€

The discovery gives credence to the theory that Mars may have once been in conditions similar to early Earth.

Researchers believe massive geologic activity would have allowed huge bursts of methane to escape the planet and warm the atmosphere.

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