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.