a reply to: Blue Shift
I don't personally know those details, although if you want to see what the depths of Mars have to offer, SOL 900-1200 is a good place to look. That
ridge contains thousands of feet of upheaved mantle.
My roommate and I have assembled some theories about the behavior of possible macro-cellular ecosystems there.
We just recently began to think of the surface of Mars behaving like the bottom of Earth's oceans. (A really really really dispersed vapor ocean.)
Places where geothermal activity provides heat would be a good place to look for organisms, the energy margins in those areas are higher, and
organisms would have more opportunity to snatch up cheap energy.
Another consideration, is crater rims. Thinking of them, like ocean drop-offs, could provide a valuable picture.
Imagine a crater on Mars, so deep, that sunlight never hits the bottom. It would create a thermal differential between the bottom of that crater, and
the surface. Organisms near the rim of said crater, could snatch energy from the thermal movement, and additional energy from falling particles,
thanks to an assist from gravity. In our oceans, there is generally a large concentration and variation of life near ocean drop-off points, especially
if they are very deep and cold drop-offs, off the edge of a continental shelf.
Imagining creatures that take advantage of what the planet has to offer, for cheap energy, is easy to do. Earth has many examples of creatures
utilizing their local environment for a Darwinian advantage.
Chemical energy, friction energy, thermal differentiation energy... All of those potential energy transfer zones, would be the places I would look for
life. If it's easier to get energy by being at location x,y,z, then by Darwin rule, those are the places an organism would be.
A fun idea we were throwing around, would be a blanket type creature, similar to slime molds or massive mycelium colonies on Earth, but in
practicality on the surface of Mars, the creature would act like a phospholipid bilayer skin, with rocks and dust between the two sheets. Our blanket
buddy, could park himself over a geothermal heat vent, with carbonate rocks in between his layers. Let the natural planet heat do the work of breaking
the energy and moisture back out of the minerals. A top layer for insulation from the harsh surface environment, a bottom layer to provide control of
the absorption of heat from the geothermal or geochemical activity, and a convenient pocket between for yummy energy high minerals. Land whales, that
eat rocks. Indistinguishable from the surrounding environment, thus very hard to encounter for Curiosity.