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Life on Mars?

  1. Jul 20, 2008 #1

    arildno

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    Researchers think they have found traces of ammonia in Mars' athmosphere.
    Since ammonia is degraded quickly there, if this were true, it would mean the presence of some ammonia-producing source on Mars.

    THe best bets for that would be either active volcanoes or microbes, but since active volcanoes have not been found on Mars, it might mean there is life there!

    Here's the article (found at richarddawkins.net):
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3896335.stm

    Anyhow, for those who haven't heard it before, here's David Bowie's great song:


    EDIT:
    Oops, that article was 4 years old, don't know why richardawkins.net put it up in the news section..
    The findings have later been debunked.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
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  3. Jul 20, 2008 #2
    I remember talk about something like this. There were readings of chemicals that supposedly were unlikely to have come from any other source than living organisms which was supposedly refuted by other research readings that did not detect the presence of chemicals that should be present if there were decaying organic matter. I wondered at the time how likely it was that there could be an organism that does not leave behind a 'corpse'. Perhaps cannibalistic organisms that recycle themselves. It might make sense considering the sort of conditions on Mars.
     
  4. Jul 20, 2008 #3

    arildno

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    Inasmuch as the total biomass is constant, organisms must necessarily leave some traces of themselves since they can't do without some external energy source.

    Minimally, they would have to radiate heat, but most likely, much more than that.
     
  5. Jul 20, 2008 #4

    LowlyPion

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    That article is from 4 years ago. This is the same guy that was also talking about methane in the Martian atmosphere too.
    http://www.abc.net.au/cgi-bin/common/printfriendly.pl?/catalyst/stories/s1310280.htm
    His picture:
    http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMS25UZJND_index_3.html

    In 2004 he was saying this:
    "Speculation is that already methane is a rather strong indicator life is probably present today on Mars. Just simply based on methane. ...Formaldehyde is destroyed in the Martian atmosphere within 7.5 hours. There is no way that formaldehyde can exist and remain for a long time in the Martian atmosphere. If (formaldehyde) confirmed, possibly life on Mars today, yes."
    —Vittorio Formisano, Ph.D., Physicist, Interplanetary Science

    I'm not sure that that the data he is reading already doesn't require reading "between the lines" to come to the conclusion in the first place. And unfortunately, it's hard to separate the science from the opinion of someone that may be predisposed to a conclusion. Look at what some people can find in the outside crust of a grilled cheese sandwich.
     
  6. Jul 20, 2008 #5
    I'm pretty sure that is the one I heard about.

    I'm not predisposed to thinking there is life on Mars. I used to listen to Coast to Coast rather often and during the Mars rover missions I got to know Richard C Hoagland's voice like one knows the sound of nails on a chalkboard. It's just an interesting idea and I like to entertain interesting ideas.
     
  7. Jul 20, 2008 #6

    LowlyPion

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    My comment was really directed at Vittorio's science not any predilection that others may have to the view. Since the earliest "canali" were observed by Schiaparelli, I think the public imagination has been piqued by the possibility of life on such a close neighbor.

    I see it with some ambivalence personally. On the one hand it might suggest that there maybe is something to thinking that life could be more common elsewhere than we may imagine. And understanding the possibility of it arising in more extreme conditions is certainly an interesting phenomenon to understand.

    On the other hand, what might our observing and just studying Martian life do to Mars, and what must already be the fragile nature of the life that clings there, if indeed it is there at all?

    In any event, whatever is there must not be occupying much of the planet-wide environment with such apparently low traces, indicated in the data.
     
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