NASA May Have Found Martian Life
Mars Coverage 5/5/10
By: Chris Capps
The discovery of water on the moon seemed unlikely almost a year ago when the LCROSS confirmed its presence in vast amounts, but the discovery that would come next may prove to be one of the greatest in the past century. NASA scientists are declaring that they may have discovered evidence of life on Mars. The discovery comes in the form of pond scum, which many are saying could be the first building block of life.
The discovery was made by two independent probes, Opportunity and Spirit which made a journey of 35 million miles before it arrived at the red planet and sent back its shocking discovery. NASA scientists are just as cautiously optimistic about the potential as when India's Chandrayaan-1 first discovered signs of water on the moon. It seems despite drastic budget cuts for the space program this may prove to be an incredible next few years for space travel and discovery.
Previous missions have sent back data suggesting a strong possibility for liquid water on Mars, and possibly therefore lifeforms as well. Of course the term liquid water may sound redundant, but the primary difference between ice and liquid water is that water in its solid form is static most of the time except on the occasions when it melts. Static water would not allow the movement and sustenance of life, and would inhibit a life-form's ability to photosynthesize. The presence of liquid state water would, however, act as an amniotic fluid to allow life to evolve and thrive. The likelihood for there being liquid water on the surface as new data is gathered continues to increase from month to month.
Scientists who are not confident that life exists on Mars currently are still open to the possibility that it may have housed life at one point in the past. The presence of Gypsum on the planet's surface is a strong indicator that there could have been life previously on the surface or deep within the crevices at one point. The martian landscape has plenty of opportunity for entire cities the size of New York to hide without being visible to orbital satellites or low orbit probes. Could these crevices contain the ruins of lost civilizations from thousands or even millions of years ago?
Dr. Steve Squyres spoke earlier this month alongside four other experts at a press conference dedicated to the 50th anniversary of astrobiological research. Assembled before colleagues and reporters, Dr. Squyres said the only way for life to be confirmed on Mars would be to bring back Martian rocks containing fossil evidence. He went on to talk about the detection of Methane in the Martian atmosphere suggesting life may be present in bountiful quantity even today. Since Methane molecules disperse quickly, if biological in origin it would provide sufficient evidence that life on Mars was not only present, but incredibly present and contemporary. Of course the alternative theory would be deep hot fissures in the Martian landscape which, ironically, is the perfect place for life to develop.