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Author Topic: About the life on Mars question.  (Read 2425 times)

Rgclark

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About the life on Mars question.
« on: 15/08/2012 16:48:05 »
 Surprised I haven't found any discussion of Mars Science Laboratory(Curiosity) on the forum.
 I was watching “This Week at NASA” after the landing. I was interested in how the voice-over describing the Curiosity landing phrased the life on Mars question. It said Curiosity will try to determine if the conditions are right for microbial life *to exist* on Mars:

Curiosity Has Landed! on This Week @NASA.

 It was notable to me this was phrased in the present tense, not for microbial life *to have existed* on Mars, but *to exist* on Mars. Since Viking with the general consensus that the current life on Mars question was answered in the negative, usually NASA missions were described as only determining if life could have existed in the past on Mars, not the present.
 On the “NASA360″ episode shown this week, the NASA scientist interviewed Dr. Bruce Jakosky of the Curiosity and upcoming MAVEN Mars missions described them also as determining if conditions are right for life *to exist* on Mars, present tense:

NASA 360 Season 3, Show 19.

 Bob Clark


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #1 on: 15/08/2012 18:00:36 »
There actually were several recent discussion topics on Curiosity on the website and podcasts.  (As well as related topics).

Mars Curiosity Extra Podcasts
How long will the Curiosity mission last?
What are we expecting to learn from Curiosity?
What will Curiosity be doing on Mars?
How can we explore the outer solar system?
Could we One Day Explore Mars Autonomously?
Why do Ships Lose Contact When Entering the Atmosphere?
Why Have Planets Got Most of the Angular Momentum?
Will Curiosity have the Longevity of Voyager I?
How do Astronomers Know Where Planets Are?
How Much do Space Missions Cost?

There was also a question:
Should we treat Earth better before we terraform Mars?

And, a somewhat earlier, but still recent QOTW discussion:
QotW - 12.07.15 - Could we Introduce Life onto Mars?

I suppose there hasn't been too lively of a discussion yet.  Perhaps I felt a bit overwhelmed by all of the related topics simultaneously coming in.  And, I didn't know if I had anything to add, although it did sound like an interesting mission overall.

It sounds like they are now going through a phase of a couple of months of testing and calibrations before the real exploration begins which seems a bit long, especially as the longevity of the mission is still somewhat questionable.

There was also a good National Geographic special about the Curiosity Rover, and the several years of preparations that were done to get the rover to Mars.

The possibility of liquid water on Mars in the distant past makes exploration for past life to be an interesting search.  Hopefully Curiosity has the tools for the job.

The Armstrong Limit may preclude life from currently living on the surface, although on Earth we find some amazing environmental adaptations to various conditions. 

It would still be interesting to do a few deep bore holes in Mars, but that would be a future mission.  Maybe distant future as deep well drilling equipment is heavy and complex.  Perhaps Curiosity will help us decide where to direct the future drilling.  An alternative to drilling might be to slam a rocket into Mars like was done in October 2009 on the moon., although it wouldn't produce a pretty core to test.  If done in the winter, maybe it could find some ice for Curiosity to look at (is Curiosity in a place that would get cold enough to freeze ice in the winter?)
 

Rgclark

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #2 on: 15/08/2012 19:58:54 »
 Not connected to the life on Mars question but just very cool:

Video, sound, and timeline of Curiosity's descent.
Posted By Emily Lakdawalla
2012/08/14 04:56 CDT
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/08141453-brian-lynch-mardi-video.html

   Bob Clark
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #3 on: 16/08/2012 06:16:38 »
Interesting short film clips.

So, what will Curiosity tell us about he Drake Equation?

Part of the Drake equation is:
f = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point.

Some estimates put this fraction at nearly 100%.

So, if Opportunity, and future probes fail to find evidence of past or present life, then does that mean that the f = 100% factor of the Drake equation is WRONG?

Of course, it could also mean that it is there, but we just didn't find it.

Mars, however, may be different enough from Earth that even with surface ice, or surface liquid water it might not have been able to support life. 

For example, Mars, gets awfully cold at night, so surface life would have had to endure daily freeze/thaw cycles, although potentially it could live in lake under an ice cap.

Our oceans are oxygenated due to a dense oxygen atmosphere.  Without the atmosphere, the oceans would not have enough oxygen to support animal life.

Is the thin CO2 atmosphere enough to support aquatic plant life?
 

Offline Emc2

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #4 on: 16/08/2012 08:25:23 »
I believe the conditions and ingredients that need to come together at the right times and quantities, means that although "life" may be all over the universe, as I believe it is.  Yet at the same time, I believe the conditions to be a rare occurance, so much so, that another planet in this solar system ever having life, are slim at best.

consider "all" that had to of happened at the right time, in the right amounts for life to even be here.

if you multiply that out, then life can be all over the universe, and yet still be rare..

for me, one day, life is gonna be found out there....I believe that as fact..

 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #5 on: 16/08/2012 09:02:31 »
for me, one day, life is gonna be found out there....I believe that as fact..

If another planet supporting life is more than 10 lightyears away, then it may be just too far for us to ever reach, and thus we may never truly find it.

However, if we ever find an exoplanet with an oxygen enriched atmosphere, or perhaps other tell-tale signs, then one might conclude terrestrial-like life existing....  But, if life evolved very differently on an exoplanet, we might never detect it.  Or, the oxygen generation on Earth came rather late, so we might not even recognize Earth during the first couple of billion years of life being here.
 

Offline Emc2

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #6 on: 16/08/2012 09:08:53 »
lol

don't ruin my fantasy, of that announcement one day !!

 although I think, comets played a big part in our existence...another piece of the puzzle ?

« Last Edit: 16/08/2012 09:14:41 by Emc2 »
 

Rgclark

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #7 on: 16/08/2012 14:17:29 »
...
So, if Opportunity, and future probes fail to find evidence of past or present life, then does that mean that the f = 100% factor of the Drake equation is WRONG?
Of course, it could also mean that it is there, but we just didn't find it.
Mars, however, may be different enough from Earth that even with surface ice, or surface liquid water it might not have been able to support life. 
...

 Another consideration is that the Earth and Mars exchanged meteoritic material many times over during the billions of years of the Solar Systems existence. So Earth life has already been introduced to Mars. Then if life is found on Mars another question is did it develop independently or was it just an offshoot of Earth life?
 Of course if life does or did exist on Mars than another possibility is that Earth life was an offshoot of Mars life.

   Bob Clark
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #8 on: 16/08/2012 15:49:33 »
If life was found elsewhere in the solar system with the same DNA, RNA, amino acids, chirality, and etc...  and evidence of really ancient DNA divergence (not recent contamination).  Then one would have to ask if it was the same life that began here, there, or somewhere else and seeded both planets.
 

Offline damocles

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #9 on: 17/08/2012 02:47:40 »
Off topic, but if life originated independently on different planets, then we should expect (on a statistical basis) to find mirror life on at least one of the first handful of planets where we search successfully (i.e. opposite chirality of the biomolecules).
 

Offline RD

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #10 on: 17/08/2012 04:15:42 »
Off topic, but if life originated independently on different planets, then we should expect (on a statistical basis) to find mirror life on at least one of the first handful of planets where we search successfully (i.e. opposite chirality of the biomolecules).

If the theory below is correct, life on different planets in the same solar system would probably have the same chirality, (c.f. diameter of solar system to the distance to nearest neutron star).

Quote
These amino acids "seeds" formed in interstellar space, possibly on asteroids as they careened through space. At the outset, they have equal amounts of left and right-handed amino acids. But as these rocks soar past neutron stars, their light rays trigger the selective destruction of one form of amino acid. The stars emit circularly polarized light--in one direction, its rays are polarized to the right. 180 degrees in the other direction, the star emits left-polarized light.

All earthbound meteors catch an excess of one of the two polarized rays. Breslow said that previous experiments confirmed that circularly polarized light selectively destroys one chiral form of amino acids over the other. The end result is a five to ten percent excess of one form,
http://scienceandreason.blogspot.co.uk/2008/05/amino-acid-chirality-mystery.html
« Last Edit: 17/08/2012 04:27:08 by RD »
 

Offline Emc2

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #11 on: 17/08/2012 06:07:17 »
if the "comet" theory plays some part in lifes formation, it is possible that microbes get deposited all over the solar system and universe, but that advancement is determined by a pre-set conditional progression.

 so the ingredients for life might be being spread out all over the place, and due to overall odds, it develops after these conditions are met, but it is in fact very rare yet due to number of overall systems, very likely is all over the universe in various forms, and could or could not all be carbon based..


 
 

Rgclark

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #12 on: 19/08/2012 14:41:33 »
 In Friday's teleconference lead Curiosity scientist John Grotzinger
initially gave the max temperature at the landing site as 1 degree
above freezing:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/24773693

 However, later in response to a question for clarification on that
temperature at about 22 minutes into the teleconference, he gave the
temperature as 276 degrees Kelvin. This is about 3 degrees C, or 37
degrees F. The temperatures are expected to go higher as we get into
Spring at the landing site.
 A low lying water ice haze was visible in Gale crater at the time of
the landing. The Mars Pathfinder mission showed the air temperature
can drop as much as 20C just a few feet above the ground compared to
the ground temperature. However, it is important to note that clouds
and fogs can have some proportion of liquid water even at tens of
degrees below freezing:

A liquid water component to clouds and fogs on Mars.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-liquid-water-component-to-clouds-and.html

 Bob Clark
 

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Re: About the life on Mars question.
« Reply #12 on: 19/08/2012 14:41:33 »

 

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