Is there a forum where people can share and discuss features on Mars?

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There are hundreds of thousands of images of Mars. In my spare time, I've browsed through many, and have kept track of the most interesting ones (to my eyes). So of course, I would be interested to discuss the features I found interesting with people that are more qualified to analyze them.

I know PF isn't the place, since you can only discuss published research here, but I am wondering if there is a place people can go and do things such as ask about and discuss features they find in images of Mars.
 

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  • #2
berkeman
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There are hundreds of thousands of images of Mars. In my spare time, I've browsed through many, and have kept track of the most interesting ones (to my eyes). So of course, I would be interested to discuss the features I found interesting with people that are more qualified to analyze them.

I know PF isn't the place, since you can only discuss published research here, but I am wondering if there is a place people can go and do things such as ask about and discuss features they find in images of Mars.
Well, as long as you don't want to discuss the pyramid thingy or the Mickey Mouse craters, this forum here would seem to be okay. :smile:
 
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Well, as long as you don't want to discuss the pyramid thingy or the Mickey Mouse craters, this forum here would seem to be okay. :smile:
Thanks Berkman. :smile:

I should have been more clear. Some of the images have features which appear to be potential fossils. My understanding is that it is not unrealistic that a fossil may be found in an image on Mars, but unless the images were exceptionally compelling, all we could do is speculate. And such speculation would not (in most cases) be worthy of publication, or discussion on PF. And if there are fossils visible in Mars images, most of them are probably not exceptionally compelling.

But for someone like me, who is just bored sitting at home alone for nearly a year during a pandemic, searching Mars images for signs of fossils is still fun. It invokes a childish sense of adventure. And even for someone like me, who is very skeptical by nature, finding some potentially interesting images is a little bit exciting.

It's like if you are searching for arrowheads, and you find some rocks that look like they might have been worked on, potential practice rocks or something, you still want to pick them up and ask someone, "hey do you think this could have been something". I could ask some people, and they would say it's a magic rock from a lost civilization that has a blue aura, and it might be a gateway to another dimension. I know where I can get those kinds of answers. Or I could ask an expert and they might say, probably not, or it looks like someone might have chipped at it. But I'm not sure where I can go and get those.

I guess even a skeptical discussion here would be off limits given the subject matter.
 
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  • #4
berkeman
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Some of the images have features which appear to be potential fossils.
Interesting. If so, there will almost certainly be peer-reviewed journal articles about them, or at least some NASA publications (although NASA is becoming a deprecated source here at the PF lately based on some questionable publications).
I guess even a skeptical discussion here would be off limits given the subject matter.
Yeah, without some good published articles to start the discussion, speculation about the images probably would not be a good thread start.
 
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  • #5
berkeman
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Um, just for fun, and before any other Mentors click into this thread, can you post a couple images of what you think could be "fossils" with measurement scales included? Shh, don't tell nobody... :wink:
 
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with measurement scales included
That's not a turtle. That's Gamera!
 
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Um, just for fun, and before any other Mentors click into this thread, can you post a couple images of what you think could be "fossils" with measurement scales included? Shh, don't tell nobody... :wink:
I can't give measurement scales unfortunately. The images are all from the spirit rover. I'm not saying hey look proof of something. Just, hey look a cool rock, is it possible it is a fossil?

https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/multimedia/raw/

This one is from the panorama camera, set 294. In the middle right, there is what I thought looks like it could possibly be petrified wood.

https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/gallery/all/2/p/294/2P152473052EFF8992P2422R1M1.JPG

spirit-p294-3.JPG


This one (below) is from the same set, although the coral looking thing actually resembles a ton of non-coral looking rocks with the same kind of geological structure.

https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/gallery/all/2/p/294/2P152471896EFF8992P2422R2M1.HTML

1598926985675.png


This one (below) is from the navigation camera, set 65. It just kind of looks like it could be something. But after going through a lot of images from this area, there are a lot of rocks with such interesting looking features that are more obviously just rocks.

https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/gallery/all/2/n/065/2N132143157EFF1600P1835L0M1.JPG

spirit-n65-2-outline.JPG
 
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  • #9
davenn
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Just, hey look a cool rock, is it possible it is a fossil?

https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/multimedia/raw/
no fossils there, nothing that even remotely looks like one

likewise for these 2 photos that you posted
just lots of rocks

1598929512989.png


1598929527393.png


cant even imagine why you would think they could be fossils ??


Dave
 
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no fossils there, nothing that even remotely looks like one

likewise for these 2 photos that you posted
just lots of rocks

View attachment 268688

View attachment 268689

cant even imagine why you would think they could be fossils ??


Dave
I never said that last one looks like a fossil. I said it looks like a rock and not a gorilla.
 
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Though I know it's highly unlikely that you have found pieces of wood or animal fossils.......it sure does look like that's what it is.

This could be like cloud watching for astronomers ("look, that rock looks like a gorilla!")
 
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I don't see anything that looks like fossils, even if I squint my eyes really hard. That no scientist has found any fossils on Mars yet, although they are searching probably hundreds more photos, more closely with the appropriate software, just confirms that.
To me this just seems another case of patternicity or pareidolia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophenia#"Patternicity"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia
Ok, but how do you explain this? LOL, just a joke.

marsAttacks.JPG


And this LOL,

1598948388429.png


And this little creature,

1598948669363.png


Yeah, Mars images, with all of the volcanic rocks and shadows are definitely ripe for patternicity and pareodolia. I think you can even make out the gorilla way in the background.
 
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  • #14
russ_watters
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Some of the images have features which appear to be potential fossils. My understanding is that it is not unrealistic that a fossil may be found in an image on Mars...
Where do you get that understanding? My understanding is that there aren't any reputable scientists who believe that. More to the point, these missions spend hundreds of millions of dollars and one of the primary purposes is to search for signs of life. If there were even the tiniest chance one of these rocks could be a fossil laying out in the open, there's no reason NASA wouldn't task a day to roll a few meters over for a closer look, and to drill a hole in one. And further, if Mars had ever supported large animal life, to the extent that there would be fossils just laying out in the open, the soil itself would be rich with plant/animal material.
 
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Where do you get that understanding? My understanding is that there aren't any reputable scientists who believe that. More to the point, these missions spend hundreds of millions of dollars and one of the primary purposes is to search for signs of life. If there were even the tiniest chance one of these rocks could be a fossil laying out in the open, there's no reason NASA wouldn't task a day to roll a few meters over for a closer look, and to drill a hole in one. And further, if Mars had ever supported large animal life, to the extent that there would be fossils just laying out in the open, the soil itself would be rich with plant/animal material.
My understanding is that the mainstream belief is that it is unlikely that large life existed on Mars (not impossible).

I mean, you can look through the images from the microscopic imager and see what they drilled into. It would technically have been outside of the mission statement to investigate potential fossils. I don't know how strictly they follow the stated mission. You would think that if they saw something, they would get a closer look. But keep in mind, there is a delay, and they have specific scientific goals. I don't how willing they would be to sidetrack the plan and backtrack to investigate a possible fossil (especially when it's considered an unlikely find)? I mean, according to you, for a person on the team to even suggest it, they would be crossing into non-credible scientist territory. And it's not like it would be easy to spot a potential fossil. It took me a long time, looking through thousands of images, to find a few that look intriguing to me. And I'm not saying they would be intriguing to an expert.

Maybe there is a reason why this image can be ruled out by an expert from being some kind of petrified wood. That's all I'm looking for, an expert analysis. Even if what you say is true, and it is pre-posterous that petrified wood on Mars could exist, or that such a thing would surely have been found already, I still want to see a scientific explanation or analysis if I can.

spirit234.JPG


And further, if Mars had ever supported large animal life, to the extent that there would be fossils just laying out in the open, the soil itself would be rich with plant/animal material.
I mean, there are places on Earth where fossils are laying out it the open, but the soil isn't obviously rich with plant/animal material. And Mars has changed quite a bit over the years.
 
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  • #16
sophiecentaur
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I've browsed through many, and have kept track of the most interesting ones (to my eyes).
That can be good fun and so can cloud gazing on Earth. But before getting carried away, there is pretty strong evidence that conditions on Mars were only suitable for the appearance of life for the first billion years. During a similar time on Earth, the best we could do was very simple prokaryotic life. It took billions of years from that before eukaryotic life appeared here. Larger life forms have only been around for millions of years. So gorillas are highly unlikely.
There's nothing wrong with 'wanting' something but I have to question the motivation. (I speak as one who was totally convinced by Erich Von Daniken in my youth.)
Speaking of published photographs from space and spending time looking at them, there is free access to TB of astronomical data. It's possible to be the first to locate some asteroids and comets. That would be real evidence of a real thing. You can even give it a name.
 
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That can be good fun and so can cloud gazing on Earth. But before getting carried away, there is pretty strong evidence that conditions on Mars were only suitable for the appearance of life for the first billion years. During a similar time on Earth, the best we could do was very simple prokaryotic life. It took billions of years from that before eukaryotic life appeared here. Larger life forms have only been around for millions of years. So gorillas are highly unlikely.
There's nothing wrong with 'wanting' something but I have to question the motivation. (I speak as one who was totally convinced by Erich Von Daniken in my youth.)
Speaking of published photographs from space and spending time looking at them, there is free access to TB of astronomical data. It's possible to be the first to locate some asteroids and comets. That would be real evidence of a real thing. You can even give it a name.
I hear you. Note the gorilla image is intended as a joke. It's just a neat optical illusion. I still keep an open mind about the possibilities for ancient life on Mars. There is evidence it was only suitable for the first billion years, but there is uncertainty, and I think that "suitable for life" is still an open scientific question. I think that I'll have more confidence to be dismissive in the near future, since there are some upcoming missions which I think will tell us a lot more.

That does sound fun to search for asteroids and comets. I've got a background in computer science and a little experience in computer vision. It sounds like a hobby I could get into. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
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  • #18
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there's no reason NASA wouldn't task a day to roll a few meters over for a closer look, and to drill a hole in one.
It's a conspiracy I tells ya!

Thus far, people have been saying it's unlikely to be petrified wood because of the wood. It's also unlikely because it has to petrify. How exactly? Mars is quite silica-poor.
 
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  • #19
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It would technically have been outside of the mission statement to investigate potential fossils. I don't know how strictly they follow the stated mission. You would think that if they saw something, they would get a closer look. But keep in mind, there is a delay, and they have specific scientific goals. I don't how willing they would be to sidetrack the plan and backtrack to investigate a possible fossil (especially when it's considered an unlikely find)?
I don't think any of that is true either, and doesn't really make sense. The original goal of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers was pretty much exactly to investigate the general area around their landing sites, looking for interesting rocks to examine more closely. The idea of a destination to travel to only came up later, when it was recognized that they were going to last many times longer than the original 90 day mission (40x longer!). But even still, the journey was just as if not more important than the destination; stopping to look at interesting rocks was a primary mission objective.
I mean, according to you, for a person on the team to even suggest it, they would be crossing into non-credible scientist territory.
It is, yes. It's really out there. You didn't answer my question before about where you got your "understanding", but I think it is safe to say you didn't get it from a reputable scientific source, right?
And it's not like it would be easy to spot a potential fossil. It took me a long time, looking through thousands of images, to find a few that look intriguing to me.
It doesn't seem like as long if you have a full-time team dedicated to nothing but examining rover photos to look for and examine interesting rocks.
Even if what you say is true, and it is pre-posterous that petrified wood on Mars could exist, or that such a thing would surely have been found already, I still want to see a scientific explanation or analysis if I can.

View attachment 268702
Part of the problem with this line of investigation is that there is no investigation. It's just a photo. Since the rover didn't go over to that rock, scrape it off and analyze it to determine exactly what the composition is, there's literally nothing that can be said about it besides "it looks like petrified wood". Even if it is, it can't be proven at this point.
I mean, there are places on Earth where fossils are laying out it the open, but the soil isn't obviously rich with plant/animal material. And Mars has changed quite a bit over the years.
Yes, the soils and even the rocks themselves are generally rich with plant/animal material. That's what a fossil is. Fossils are found in sedimentary rock, which is all the detritus of an active ecosystem mashed together and solidified into a rock. Some are mostly minerals (sandstone, shale), whereas some are almost nothing but fossils (limestone). I'm not a geologist, but my understanding is you could drill into basically any sedimentary rock on Earth and find at least trace organic material.

Since this line of investigation can't by nature produce anything more than looking for shapes in clouds, as @sophiecentaur termed it, I think perhaps your time would be better spent learning about geology, which would teach you why what you are suggesting isn't reasonable. So, since that was your original question, I guess my suggestion is to find a geology forum and ask questions about the nature of rocks and fossils, including why the rocks that they did examine tell us that the rocks they didn't examine are extremely unlikely to be fossils.
 
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  • #21
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russ_watter said:
... the rocks that they did examine tell us that the rocks they didn't examine are extremely unlikely to be fossils.
Can you explain this further? I've only read a limited amount (e.g. wiki articles and pop-science articles) about the area, and the geologic findings.
 
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I don't think any of that is true either, and doesn't really make sense. The original goal of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers was pretty much exactly to investigate the general area around their landing sites, looking for interesting rocks to examine more closely. The idea of a destination to travel to only came up later, when it was recognized that they were going to last many times longer than the original 90 day mission (40x longer!). But even still, the journey was just as if not more important than the destination; stopping to look at interesting rocks was a primary mission objective.
I am skeptical of this. They spend a lot of money on the mission. They spend years planning it, developing testable hypothesis securing funding, and equipping the rover with the tools to test those hypothesis. They carefully pick the landing site. And from the time of launch, along the journey through space, to the landing, and in the first days of exploring, they are crossing their fingers hoping something doesn't go wrong, and they will be able to find what they're looking for.

To think they would go on a hypothesis-less side mission, without even carrying the equipment needed to test a could be hypothesis of something like fossilized wood, on the first day. It just seems extremely unlikely and irresponsible.
 
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  • #23
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"Um, shouldn't we check that out?"
"Nope. Not in the mission plan."

1598995961298.png
 
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"Um, shouldn't we check that out?"
"Nope. Not in the mission plan."

View attachment 268718
Alternative: "Hey look, it's Marvin, lets take a look." ... "Darn, turned out to be an illusion, and now the rover is broken. Oh well, there's always next time. I still have a job right?"

It's not like they are sitting on couches with video game controllers smoking joints, trying to figure out what to check out next.
 
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