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A Different Way to Search for Life?

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posted on May, 7 2009 @ 03:07 PM
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The great Freeman Dyson, has recently proposed a slightly different approach in trying to find life on other planets and moons in our Solar System and elsewhere. He questions if we are looking for life where it is probable instead of looking for life where it's detectable.

Could flowers bloom on icy moon Europa?

Europa has been a likely candidate for some years, as has Titan. He suggests that we could look for life that may have evolved in similar ways to Arctic flowers...


Physicist and futurist Freeman Dyson says we should search for extraterrestrial life where it is easiest to find, even if the conditions there are not ideal for life as we know it. Specifically, he says spacecraft should look for flowers – similar to those found in Earth's Arctic regions – on icy moons and comets in the outer solar system. "I would say the strategy in looking for life in the universe [should be] to look for what's detectable, not what's probable," he said on Saturday at a conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Unfortunately, the article suggests the JIMO (Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter) Mission, but it's been canceled/ postponed indefinitely. I can think of one or two reasons why current searches may be more productive long-term, but it's Freeman Dyson suggesting it! He's always thought provoking.

Does anyone have an opinion? Flowers (flora) as the new search criteria?





posted on May, 7 2009 @ 04:38 PM
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I think it would be better to look for life period. We should get there and look for whats there instead of just looking for flowers. The life on earth developed on earth to live on earth. Life on other planets would have had to addapt to that environment. The search is very narrowminded in the respect that people usually want to look for earth life on other planets. I think finding an old building or a wrecked ship would be way better than a flower.



posted on May, 7 2009 @ 04:49 PM
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In general we need to figure out a good strategy to narrow down where to look for life in all its forms.

The original Viking mission was a success if you ask these scientists. By all accounts it detected "the presence of an active agent that was inhibited by heating" which satisfied the pre-mission criteria for detecting microbial organisms.

It makes sense that if the Viking experiment, for whatever reason, didn't convince all participants of microbial life that the problem then is putting together a better experiment to more conclusively prove the original observation.

One of the better proposals I've heard is using the chirality of light coming from a planet to detect life. "If the [planet's] surface had just a collection of random chiral molecules, half would go left, half right," [NIST scientist Thom] Germer says. "But life's self-assembly means they all would go one way. It's hard to imagine a planet's surface exhibiting handedness without the presence of self assembly, which is an essential component of life." (source)

Using all of these techniques in tandem (Dyson's included
) will eventually allow us to say with a great deal of certainty, "Yes, life exists outside of Earth."

I think it's worth noting that fungus grew and mutated on Mir. The fact that a simple lifeform like fungus could live in space and adapt, rather than dying off, is a good indicator in my book that life really does exist in just about every hostile environment.

[edit on 7-5-2009 by Xtraeme]



posted on May, 7 2009 @ 05:37 PM
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reply to post by Xtraeme
 

The fungus was inside of Mir. A cozy, rather than hostile, environment.

Over the years, visitors to Mir have consistently said the biggest impression on reaching the station is the smell.

And they have found various types of fungus growing behind panels and in air-conditioning units.

news.bbc.co.uk...

Fungus is a matter of concern on all spacecraft.
science.nasa.gov...

[edit on 5/7/2009 by Phage]



posted on May, 7 2009 @ 05:58 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by Xtraeme
 

The fungus was inside of Mir. A cozy, rather than hostile, environment.

Over the years, visitors to Mir have consistently said the biggest impression on reaching the station is the smell.

And they have found various types of fungus growing behind panels and in air-conditioning units.

news.bbc.co.uk...

Fungus is a matter of concern on all spacecraft.
science.nasa.gov...


It wasn't my intention to imply that fungus was growing in the vacuum of space.


Rather I was trying to point out that the fungus was mutating and adapting to its environment. I found it particularly interesting that the fungus was "attack[ing] the structure of [the] spacecraft" by "producing acids that pit metal, etch glass, and make rubber brittle."(1)



posted on May, 7 2009 @ 06:07 PM
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reply to post by Xtraeme
 

Well that's a relief. Never can tell.
(you did say "on" rather than "in")

Space mung. ick


[edit on 5/7/2009 by Phage]



posted on May, 7 2009 @ 06:33 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by Xtraeme
 

Well that's a relief. Never can tell.
(you did say "on" rather than "in")

Space mung. ick


If I was going to make the case for life in the vacuum of space I would have gone on a long diatribe about spores and uv-resistant bacteria.


However these experiments haven't run their course so it would be premature.


However if I was to speculate, there could be a "space bacterium" of sorts in far off nebulae using metabolic pathways to convert arsenic and/or selenium (found in interstellar gas) into organic compounds using energy from sunlight. Somewhat similar, perhaps, to photosynthesis in plants.

Granted the creature would have to be pretty darn UV resistant. Then again Arthrobacter's UV survival index was found to be comparable to those of Bacillus pumilus spores! So, hey, it's possible.




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