The Methane Balance

Formation and Destruction Processes on Planets, their Satellites and in the Interstellar Medium


Our team consists of 14 specialists in the complementary fields of astronomy, chemistry, microbiology, geology, planetary science, and physics to address a multitude of questions related to the formation and destruction of methane. Questions that will be addressed are, for instance, the formation of methane in the interstellar medium and its role in star-forming regions and protoplanetary disks, the origin and cycles of methane on Titan and other icy moons, and the implications of the existence of methane in the atmosphere of Mars and exoplanets. We will also look into the mechanisms for the formation of complex biomolecules in methane-dominated atmospheres and aquatic environments, such as the ocean floors and Earth and some of the satellites of the outer gaseous planets. We will try to elucidate to what extent microorganisms can survive on methane solely and which terminal electron acceptors that would be available for them under different environmental conditions. The proposed ISSI team will thoroughly review the role of methane in planetary systems and we expect that it will create novel cross-discipline research projects for the future.