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Let's discuss Microbial Life on Mars (the possibilities)

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posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 12:54 PM
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A recent article from BBC states that scientists have ruled out that meteroites are not the source of methane on Mars.

This leads to other possible sources of methane such as:

Geologic Activity
Chemical Activity
Volcanos
Chemical Reactions of the rocks from the Planet's Crust

or

Microbial Life



Types of Microorganism on Earth

Prokaryotes (requires some liquid water with temperatrue +140*)
Bacteria (invisible to the naked eye)
Archaea (when found in soil, plays a vital role in ammonia oxidation)
Eukaryotes (has organelles, i.e. nucleus, the Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, etc.)
Protists (algae, slime molds)
Animals (dust mites, spider mites, can have a-sexual reproduction)
Fungi (unicellular species)
Plants (photosynthetic eukaryotes)
Pathogens (disease causing)
Extremophiles (can surive in conditions that are fatal to most life-forms)


Now this is where I ask for your help:

1. How much methane is produced on Mars? (how is it measured/recorded)

2. What kind of microbial life produces Methane on Earth?

3. Hypothetically speaking what kind of microbial life is producing the Methane on Mars?


Sources:

Mars methane 'not from meteors' (BBC article 12/9/09)

New light on Mars methane mystery (BBC 1/15/09)

Microorganism-Wikipedia


Side question

4. If there is an abundance of microbial life on Mars, could there not be larger organisms present on Mars too?




posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 06:09 PM
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It depend on the basis of our knowledge on where the answer could be. Main stream, couch, science says:

Thin atmospher, lot of CO2, a bit of liquid water, a lot of ice water at pole.

On earth, where a lot of O2, to produce methane is not effecent, its a byproduce (like, your own digestive gaz..) so a bacteria to produce methan needs to be put in a place where O2 is lacking, then you have anaerobia bacteria. These was the one who are the most efficient with it.

Lets say we have the atmospher we think there is on mars, then billions of yrs of bacteria eating and producing methan could be a lot.



[edit on 9-12-2009 by korats]



posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 10:00 PM
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I looked up Anaerobic Bacteria;

An anaerobic organism or anaerobe is any organism that does not require oxygen for growth and may even die in its presence.
-Wikipedia

Next I looked up Anaerobic Bacteria in Carbon Monoxide and found this:

THE CARBON DIOXIDE REQUIREMENTS OF ANAEROBIC BACTERIA

Here is something pretty interesting:




Current anaerobic culture techniques commonly employ 5-10% CO2 in the incubation atmosphere to achieve optimal growth (Watt, 1973; Stalons, Thornsberry and Dowell, 1974; Willis, 1977).


Atmosphere of Mars

Carbon dioxide 95.32%
Nitrogen 2.7%
Argon 1.6%
Oxygen 0.13%
Carbon monoxide 0.07%
Water vapor 0.03%
Nitric oxide 0.013%
Neon 2.5 ppm
Krypton 300 ppb
Formaldehyde 130 ppb [1]
Xenon 80 ppb
Ozone 30 ppb
Methane 10.5 ppb
-Wikipedia


Let's talk more about the Atmosphere of Mars:

Solar Wind Rips Up Maritan Atmosphere




Nov. 21, 2008: Researchers have found new evidence that the atmosphere of Mars is being stripped away by solar wind. It's not a gently continuous erosion, but rather a ripping process in which chunks of Martian air detach themselves from the planet and tumble into deep space. This surprising mechanism could help solve a longstanding mystery about the Red Planet.





A cup of water placed almost anywhere on the Martian surface would quickly and violently boil away—a result of the super-low air pressure.





The surface of Mars is made up of iron oxide which gives Mars it's reddish look. What is pretty interesting about iron oxide is it's magnetic properties. We use it for floppy disks, cassette tapes, film, and photographs for example. We also use it to polish jewellery and lenses. But the Surface of Mars is very cold!

An article from BBC

Mars is 'covered in table salt'



A Nasa probe has found signs that the southern hemisphere is dusted with chloride mineral, perhaps "table salt".

US scientists think the mineral formed when water evaporated from salty lakes or soil billions of years ago.

The deposits, similar to salt-pans on Earth, are a good place to search for traces of past life preserved in salt,

they report in the journal Science.


Extremophiles that prefer environments that are very cold are called psychrophiles.

Extremophiles that prefer environments high in salt are called halophiles.

Amazing Microbes




So you have a lot of salt, extreme low air pressure, carbon dioxide, iron oxide, and an extremely cold surface temperature. Hematite, a mineral form of iron oxide, is also present on Mars.

Why Hematite is important:



Abstract

The extensive hematite deposit in Meridiani Planum was selected as the landing site for the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity because the site may have been favorable to the preservation of evidence of possible prebiotic or biotic processes. One of the proposed mechanisms for formation of this deposit involves surface weathering and coatings, exemplified on Earth by rock varnish. Microbial life, including microcolonial fungi and bacteria, is documented in rock varnish matrices from the southwestern United States and Australia. Limited evidence of this life is preserved as cells and cell molds mineralized by iron oxides and hydroxides, as well as by manganese oxides. Such mineralization of microbial cells has previously been demonstrated experimentally and documented in banded iron formations, hot spring deposits, and ferricrete soils. These types of deposits are examples of the four “water–rock interaction” scenarios proposed for formation of the hematite deposit on Mars. The instrument suite on Opportunity has the capability to distinguish among these proposed formation scenarios and, possibly, to detect traces that are suggestive of preserved martian microbiota. However, the confirmation of microfossils or preserved biosignatures will likely require the return of samples to terrestrial laboratories.


Meridiani Planum hematite deposit and the search for evidence of life on Mars-iron mineralization of microorganisms in rock varnish



Mars also Volcanic activity, and here on Earth in the Atacama Desert, we have some similar Martian Climate:

Chilean extremophile bacteria thrive in Mars-like conditions


I'm most certain we will discover microbial life on Mars in the near future. What do you think?



posted on Dec, 9 2009 @ 10:08 PM
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As the evidence mounts that Mars was warmer and wetter in the past, the chance that life, at least simple forms, seems almost a forgone conclusion.

The real question is "Has any life survived Mars's change in climate?".. Considering how stubborn life here on Earth clings to God forsaken places, I would have to lean towards yes.



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