MARS - JANUARY 6: In this handout released by NASA, a portion of the first color image of Mars that was taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is seen January 6, 2003. The rover landed on Mars January 3 and sent it's first high resolution color image January 6. (Photo by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/ Cornell University via Getty Images)

Mars has intrigued us humans down here on Earth for centuries, and the Red Planet isn't out of surprises.

While much of the public focus is on Mars' water supply—present and prehistoric—this latest mystery doesn't hinge on a liquid, but a gas. Specifically: methane.

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Natural gas, which for years has been promoted by the oil and gas industry as the “cleanest” of the fossil fuels, may not be as environmentally friendly as advertised. The United States’ reliance on natural gas as a source of power is only increasing. In 2017, 31.7 percent of U.S. electricity came from natural gas-fired generation, up from 27.3 percent in 2013.

But while natural gas produces fewer carbon emissions than burning coal, the production and transportation of natural gas releases a significant quantity of methane – a greenhouse gas that also contributes to climate change.

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