• Server Outage Announcement

    Hello, Everyone.
    We will be installing an update to XenForo (the forums software), and doing some server maintenance.
    Consequently, the forums will be unavailable from about 12 - 2 MDT / 2 - 4 EDT / 6 - 8 GMT on Sunday 9th May 2021.

Is There Life On Mars?

dot23

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 21, 2001
Messages
1,095
Reaction score
7
Points
69
new dispute over Martian meteorite

it seems this bit of rock has a good press agent ;)

What would knowing that life had existed on Mars do to our understanding of science, of religion and of our place in the Universe? Answers on a postcard please...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I think to most people a few bacteria won't matter. It is not untill we find plants or animals they will care. And if it is on Mars, people will just claim that God created life here on Earth and meteors just transfered some bacterias to Mars.
 

dot23

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 21, 2001
Messages
1,095
Reaction score
7
Points
69
Wouldn't it put more weight behind the Xenogenesis (or whatevr it's called) theory that life came from elsewhere and found ideal conditions on Earth? IF that's the case, the garden of eden's in outer space, and Noah came on a spaceship (where's LeavitJoshua when you need him?)
 

mikelegs

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Jul 31, 2001
Messages
364
Reaction score
26
Points
49
I agree that it would lend a great deal of support to panspermia/cosmic ancestry. It would prove beyond a doubt that earth is a biologically open system. It would prove that the conditions for creating life don't need to come about separately on each planet, and that maybe earth never had or needed to have conditions capable of creating life.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Is it me, or does the idea of life being created elsewhere and finding its way across the cosmos to here, seem less likely than developing from a local primordial soup?
I hate to keep banging on about probability (particularly as I know so little about it), but....:)
 

dot23

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 21, 2001
Messages
1,095
Reaction score
7
Points
69
DD, the chances are about as improbable. When you take into account the random nature of life's development the linking of certain chemicals under ideal conditions is pretty unlikely. I go for the 'seed' theory where alien races look for planets with life sustaining qualities and drop 'spores' into the ocean. O and magic mushrooms come from outer space ;)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Xanatic said:
I think to most people a few bacteria won't matter.
If they find just one microbe on Mars that is/was alive then it means that life is all over the place just waiting to be found. It might not be a plant or animal in structure but life is life and that one bacteria just throws open the doors of what could possibly be 'out there'...........
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
DD, the chances are about as improbable. When you take into account the random nature of life's development the linking of certain chemicals under ideal conditions is pretty unlikely.
Not as unlikely as you would think, if you investigate the chemistry of RNA. Check it out - it starts with very simple chemistry in relatively uncomplicated surroundings.

And, of course, if it didn't happen, you wouldn't be here - it's pointless to say after the fact "the odds against this were so large, it couldn't have happened".

If it didn't happen, you wouldn't be here on this board to discuss it. In this case, the only reason that you are able to speculate on the odds of something happening is because you are a direct result of that happening. To say that it cannot possibly have happened because of the probability against it is denying the flow of causality.

It's like a child who has been born as a result of the failure of both a condom and the contraceptive pill saying that the odds against it happening were so large, they must have been conceived by some other means.
 

dot23

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 21, 2001
Messages
1,095
Reaction score
7
Points
69
drake equation

drake equation

It's all a bit tenuous, but there is good reason to believe that other forms of life have evolved on other planets, well before we did. The Universe is over 15 billion years old, with the first life-supporting solar systems coming about around 1 billion years after the big bang. It's possible that life could have started to evolve soon after that, although some people think the conditions would have been too chaotic to sustain it. That leaves us with 14 billion years of possible evolution, and remember we've only been arounf in our present form for 100,000 years, with advanced civilization (or proof of such) available only in the last 8-6 thousand.

I think it's only our anthropocentrism which blinds us to the possibility that we're not alone. We find it hard enough to credit other animals on the earth with intelligence, or even worth.
 

harlequin2005

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
824
Reaction score
10
Points
49
The idea of panspemia is actually a little more likely than the 'closed system' theory of the genesis of life here. Bear in mind that Earth has limited resources for chemical combination, and energy to drive it. If you remove the Earth from the equation you have a lot more chemicals,in more interesting and ill explored states, to go at, and considerably more complex interactions of light and matter than you do in what is, to all intents and purposes, a muddy puddle getting struck by lightening.

Just my take on the matter

8¬)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I guess we will never know how and where the first bit of life started.

Not a problem really. ;)
 

mikelegs

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Jul 31, 2001
Messages
364
Reaction score
26
Points
49
I wonder if there could exist life that is self-aware, but defies all our common definitions of life. I wonder if these creatures could look at earth and consider it devoid of any life (by their definition of the term, of course). Just a thought, please don't ponder it too deeply. I didn't.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
If the evolution of RNA is a series of chemical reactions between simple groups, why haven't we been able to synthesise it yet in a lab? Or have we?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Actually, we have - it has also been demonstrated that certain structures present in proto-cells are replicable by chemical processes.

The view that lightning has to be involved was based on Stanley Miller's experiments in the 1950's - subsequent research has suggested that it doesn't need to be involved at all - there is similar sulphur-based chemistry that can be activated by light.

For all you trekkies, there is also some information on the Murchison Meteorite, which has some interesting Amino Acids on board.

Check out this page :

http://www.resa.net/nasa/origins_life.htm#stanley

it also has some useful links for those who haven't been keeping up on their protein chemistry.
 

Pete Younger

Venerable and Missed
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Jul 31, 2001
Messages
5,879
Reaction score
199
Points
129
Life on Mars?

Is this another tantalizing pointer to life on Mars, or just another dead end? the report here.
 

DerekH16

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 2, 2001
Messages
864
Reaction score
16
Points
49
Maybe mentioned elsewhere (I should live long enough to explore this entire MB!) but...

The theory is that, when Mars still had enough atmosphere to sustain Earth-like life, our planet resembled Venus (as it is now).

Earth 'evolved' 'Martian' qualities, Mars 'degenerated', until Mars became airless, and Earth was, by then, a suitable option.

So everyone moved.

And time passed.

And 'evolution' kept on going.

So, by the time Earth is getting a bit past it, Venus will have evolved/been terraformed to the point that Earth-like life can survive there.

So, life came to Earth from Mars, and will travel to Venus in X million years time, once Venus is ready.

:D :rolleyes:

Mind you, nothing (yet), IMHO, has proved that there was never life on Mars....
 

harlequin2005

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
824
Reaction score
10
Points
49
CNN's Spin on Martian Chlorophyl

Mars soil gives hints of green planet
April 5, 2002 Posted: 3:15 PM EST (2015 GMT)

By Richard Stenger
CNN

(CNN) -- A reexamination of data from a 1997 mission to Mars suggests that the surface contains chlorophyll, a discovery that could bolster prospects of finding life on the planet.

Chlorophyll, the molecule that plants and algae use to convert sunlight into food, gives all photosynthetic organisms on our planet their distinguishing green color.

A NASA team plans to share their preliminary findings early next week during an international conference of astrobiologists, or scientists who study the possibility of life beyond Earth.

The researchers, Carole Stoker and Pascal Ashwanden, both work at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, which is hosting the Second Astrobiology Science Conference from April 7 to April 11.

An online abstract of their presentation, titled "Search for Spectral Signatures of Life at the Pathfinder Landing Site," summarizes their report.

The pair performed a spectral analysis of Pathfinder photographs to identify chemicals in the vicinity of the NASA probe, which landed in the Ares Vallis region of Mars in July 1997.

The study turned up six potential chlorophyll hot spots. "Two intriguing cases occur in small areas on the ground near the spacecraft," the report summary added.


8¬)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Going to Mars

Two stories from the BBC:

Microbes 'could survive on Mars'

'Microbes may be able to survive on Mars according to new simulations of the Martian environment.
Researchers used a device called the Andromeda Chamber to simulate Martian conditions. They discovered that microorganisms called methanogens could grow at low pressures.

They say their findings imply that life could have existed on the Red Planet in the past, present, or at some point in the future...

..."Since methane is a greenhouse gas methanogens could be used to raise Mars' surface temperature, eventually "terraforming" the planet so that it could support life." [said Professor Timothy Kral of the University of Arkansas].'

and:

Where to land on Mars

'Scientists preparing for Nasa's next Mars mission, the twin Mars Exploration Rovers scheduled for launch in June and July 2003, have created Marsoweb to enable them to view more than 44,000 high-resolution images of the red planet.

Mars provides a wealth of exciting landing sites, but most of them present surface hazards to the current generation of landers.

The images combine all the available data about the surface of Mars allowing researchers to fly through its canyons and valleys or over its volcanoes and desert dunes.'

Marsoweb here.

Get a 3D viewer (free) here.
 

ruffready

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 6, 2002
Messages
2,393
Reaction score
23
Points
69
Mars

great! I put in my favorites to look at real good later--I still want to know what those glass tube things are(they had pictures in FT a few issues back) they are mind blowing looks artificial to me,(and richard hoagland of course)
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,231
Reaction score
9,151
Points
284
ET alive and on Mars: astronomers
NASA found evidence of life on Mars in 1976, but dismissed the findings as impossible, two British astronomers claim.

Now, evidence from missions such as the Mars Global Surveyor suggests that the early observation was correct after all.

For instance, newly released high-resolution images of the planet's surface show a valley which might have been originally formed by liquid water, the stuff of life.

According to Nigel Henbest and Heather Couper, independent astronomy writers and broadcasters, one of three biology experiments conducted on Mars by the two Viking landers obtained clear evidence that there were living microbes on the red planet.

The experimental instrument, designed by engineer Gilbert Levin, head of the Biospherics company in the US, exposed samples of the Martian soil to an Earth-like solution of water and nutrients known to exist in meteorites and interstellar clouds.

"It was the kind of solution that bacteria on Earth would love to slurp," Mr Henbest, in Sydney for the International Astronomical Union's 24th general assembly, said.

"It was cleverly designed so that if there was no life, then nothing would happen, but if there were microbes, they would take in the solution and produce gas." He said the gas was tagged with a radioactive label that could be detected by the experiment's built-in Geiger detector.

Also speaking at the assembly, astronomer Seth Shostak predicted that scientists will find ET within 25 years.

Dr Shostak, with the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) claimed that a $US10 billion ( billion) array of 350 specially designed radio telescopes under construction in California will crank up the search for extraterrestrial radio signals.

"It's like going from walking to jet speed, like finding a needle in a haystack with a big shovel instead of a small spoon," he said.

In their new book Mars: the inside story of the red planet Mr Henbest and Dr Couper reveal that Dr Levin's instrument tested three soil samples at differing temperatures. When tested at 46C, the sample emitted gas, indicating the presence of bacteria-like organisms.

"Independent people say that if this were the only experiment on Viking the (scientists) would have been persuaded that there is evidence for life on Mars," Mr Henbest said.

The problem was that neither of the other two experiments found telltale signs of life. NASA dismissed Dr Levin's findings.
Dr. Levin has been banging on for years that his experiment was more sensitive than the others, and did find life.
 

tzb57r

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
May 15, 2002
Messages
137
Reaction score
5
Points
49
It is actually "return to" rather than "destination" Mars :). In last Weeks New Scientist (Dated 12/07/03, printed version) there is an article (Born Lucky p 32) by Paul Davies where he provides the theory that life on Earth appeared first on Mars and then migrated during the great asteroid bombardment. It is pretty convincing. He also provides the theory that shows that it is unlikely that the Earth has EVER been struck by a meteorite from another solar system. (Which is a lot less convincing, remember 4.2 billion years is a sod of a long time and the sun has not always been this remote form other stars.)

His theory goes:
Mars was hospitable to life long before Earth (about 500million years)
As soon as it was possible for life to form on Earth it did (seems improbable if life is not very easy to create)
The harder it is to create life the more probable that it evolved on Mars and then migrated here.

Sorry I can’t find anything electronic on this to provide a link.
 

tzb57r

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
May 15, 2002
Messages
137
Reaction score
5
Points
49
Full story here

The Intrinsic Rights Of Martian Bugs

Recent evidence of vast amounts of water ice on Mars supports the possibility of indigenous life. At the same time, that water could enable human settlement and massive environmental engineering, or terraforming. A moral conflict could face us soon, pitting Terrestrial life against the Martian. The course of action we choose should be informed by broad debate: the ethics, as much as the biology, of Mars deserves full exploration.
So it seems that we can't even land grab from microbes any more, what is the worlds coming to :)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Excellent link, tzb57r!
We may be facing this sort of ethical dilemma in the near future, if non-intelligent life is discovered on Mars;

As it says in that link, there is no NASA policy or international protocol yet concerning the discovery of extraterrestrial life; soon we may need one.
That page contains further links to two fascinating PDF'S considering the situation from a moral and scientific standpoint;
http://www.seti.org/pdf/m_race_guidelines.pdf
http://www.seti-inst.edu/pdf/m_race_ethics.pdf
Three axioms defined in one of these links are of interest; faced with the discovery of extraterrestrial life of any kind, the most important considerations are considered to be the Preservation, Stewardship and Intrinsic Worth of the lifeforms concerned.

Some however consider that the preservation of extraterrestrial lifeforms, intelligent or non-intelligent, should be subordinate to the propagation of Terrestrial species and civilisation; it is important to remember that the expansion of terrestrial life into the universe is a respectable aim. If we find lifeforms on every terrestrial type planet this aim will be difficult to achieve without disturbing such lifeforms.

For this reason the policies of Preservation and Stewardship should be observed as far as possible, but if it is possible to remove any primitive ecosystems from a planet and preserve them in smaller, tailor-made environments, preservation could be possible while allowing the planet concerned to be developed for terrestrial life.

This procedure would certainly not be correct in the case of the discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life; any such society should be disturbed as little as possible, while being closely observed and recorded;
eventually it should be contacted and exposed to the full complexity of our terrestrial civilisation (whatever that may be like at the time);

but I am of the opinion that a series of representative samples of the local intelligent race should be extracted prior to that contact, and exposed to terrestrial culture at full strength to produce a group of beings capable of crosscultural interpretation.
This process could go on for decades or millenia before full contact is made.

This idea is partly based on the imaginings of present-day UFO 'contactees'; the strategy allegedly followed by the imaginary aliens in the equally imaginary flying saucers would be a sensible one, if they didn't keep allowing themselves to be 'seen'. Hopefully future human explorers wouldn't make such a pig's breakfast of such an important issue.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,231
Reaction score
9,151
Points
284
A long article by Prof. Paul Davies on the philosophical and theological implications if life is found elsewhere:
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2003/09/davies.htm
If traces of past life were discovered on Mars but found to be identical to some form of terrestrial life, transportation by ejected rocks would be the most plausible explanation, and we would still lack evidence that life had started from scratch in two separate locations.

...

Only recently, for example, did the Pope acknowledge that Darwinian evolution is more than just a theory. If SETI succeeds, theologians will not have the luxury of decades of careful deliberation to assess the significance of the discovery. The impact will be instant.

...

Some form of natural God was also proposed by Fred Hoyle, in a provocative book titled The Intelligent Universe. Hoyle drew on his work in astronomy and quantum physics to sketch the notion of a "superintellect"—a being who had, as Hoyle liked to say, "monkeyed with physics," adjusting the properties of the various fundamental particles and forces of nature so that carbon-based organisms could thrive and spread across the galaxy. Hoyle even suggested that this cosmic engineer might communicate with us by manipulating quantum processes in the brain. Most scientists shrug off Hoyle's speculations, but his ideas do show how far beyond traditional religious doctrine some people feel they need to go when they contemplate the possibility of advanced life forms beyond Earth.

[etc]
 

Anome

Bibliomancer
Joined
May 23, 2002
Messages
5,560
Reaction score
652
Points
194
Location
Left, and to the Back
Speaking personally, I don't trust Paul Davies on matters relating to physics, let alone theology.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,231
Reaction score
9,151
Points
284
anome said:
Speaking personally, I don't trust Paul Davies on matters relating to physics, let alone theology.
Oh, do tell us why! Sounds intriguing!
 

Kondoru

Antediluvian
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
7,587
Reaction score
2,685
Points
234
Do they have a definite definition of life? I always thought that when betting, you needed either a positive or a definate negative outcome...

...Or do Ladbrokes know something that the astrobiologists dont?
 

Yithian

Parish Watch
Staff member
Joined
Oct 29, 2002
Messages
32,870
Reaction score
40,909
Points
309
Location
East of Suez
Homo Aves said:
Do they have a definite definition of life?
It's the ratio of Carbonsummat to carbonsummatelse. It's too late in the day for me to check which isotopes.
 
Top