Life on Mars?

A computer model of the formation of Olympus Mons (a big giant mountain on Mars) indicates that this geological formation should contain pockets of water.

The scientists explained that their finding is more implication than revelation. “What we were analyzing was the structure of Olympus Mons, why it’s shaped the way it is,” said McGovern, an adjunct assistant professor of Earth science and staff scientist at the NASA-affiliated Lunar and Planetary Institute. “What we found has implications for life – but implications are what go at the end of a paper.”

This water would be liquid. Warm, in fact. And thus, the prospect of life.

I’m going off a press report here, but it sounds interesting. The paper was published in Geology, and at the moment I’m having a bit of trouble getting a copy of it. More later, maybe.

Comments

  1. #1 NoAstronomer
    March 4, 2009

    Meh. Count me in the group of people who are extremely skeptical that living creatures could have developed on Mars. So I don’t really understand what all the fuss is about.

    I’m not saying it’s totally impossible. Just extremely unlikely. Atmospheric and temperature conditions are, and were, just too extreme to seriously consider the possibility.

    A far more likely place to find life is one of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn. Or maybe even the planets themselves. But Mars? It’s as cold and dead as it has always been.

  2. #2 Nathan Myers
    March 4, 2009

    From the outside it appears planetologists are under overwhelming institutional pressure to find evidence of life, or conditions that could support life, or just water, on Mars and other planetary bodies. I am correspondingly forced to derate reports that mention water, there, almost to zero.

    For example, we saw recent reports of water vapor in Mercury’s vicinity (not to say “atmosphere”) with no discussion at all of whether the signal could be interpreted as chlorine.

    I would welcome reports “from inside” on the experience of this institutional pressure.

  3. #3 george.w
    March 4, 2009

    I just read today that abundant perchlorates could keep water liquid even at Martian temperatures. Warm it up then, and it would be pretty chemically active.

    Sure, warmer places would be more likely to have life, but if Mars has life, then it’s probably damn near everyplace that’s even remotely habitable. To me that’s the fuss/significance. It would also be fascinating to verify that it was unlike any life on Earth, confirming independent abiogenesis.

  4. #4 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 5, 2009

    I dunno about the institutional pressure, apart from attracting grant money with engaging topics, which seems more like contingencies of social interactions and is widespread phenomena. But if it is internally engaging, and it is AFAIU, there should also be an interest to make observations to test hypotheses concerning life.

    That said, I hope the paper has some nontrivial support for its implications (but also for “more later” on that topic). I’m getting tired of the media hair trigger on this.

    It’s as cold and dead as it has always been.

    And the observations supporting this, in either time frame, are what? Earth conditions seems likely to have been “extreme” compared with today when life started here – and AFAIU most abiogenesis hypotheses thrives on this for reasons of free energy et cetera.

  5. #5 Jerry Lehane III
    March 17, 2009

    http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a65/j3lehane/BigMartianManOp2004Spring16kb.jpg I designed the Mars rovers 1987. The rovers found people,animals,fossils on Mars 2004.I’ll share pics of them.We are mislead by scientists who are not free to disclose their real findings.1976 Viking landers found large life on Mars,and I have pics of live animals from 1976 unmasked from their masked out images.Disclosure is not forthcoming from Nasa because they are military,not just scientific.Mars people look like us and have clothes and hats.They probably live more underground than we do where the water is.

  6. #6 Eric Madsen
    October 7, 2010

    Ugh…it is so annoying when people launch their crazy theories about life already existing on Mars. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And so far the evidence (the science based evidence that is) is slowly being pieced together by real scientists doing real science.

    I for one look forward to the day that a Martian extremophile is discovered under Mars’ surface. A subterranean multicellular organism is very likely to exist in many different places in our own solar system.

    And the thought of cavernous regions underneath Olympus Mons is so tantalizing. If ground penetrating radar reveals spaces within that huge volcano, then I expect a high probability of liquid water to be there…and life not very far off

    Cheers

  7. #7 P. Locans
    October 7, 2010

    They probably have snorkels coming out of their heads.