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I'm usually not easily surprised, but I must admit, part of this surprises me.
Mars may have been arid for more than 600 million years, making it too hostile for any life to survive on the planet's surface, according to researchers who have been carrying out the painstaking task of analysing individual particles of Martian soil...
The results of the soil analysis at the Phoenix site suggest the surface of Mars has been arid for hundreds of millions of years, despite the presence of ice and the fact that previous research has shown that Mars may have had a warmer and wetter period in its earlier history more than three billion years ago. The team also estimated that the soil on Mars had been exposed to liquid water for at most 5,000 years since its formation billions of years ago.
That's exactly what I thought before I read that article. And I still reserve a possibility that they may find a different result in other parts of the planet.
Originally posted by Qumulys
To rebutt, myself, and the article a bit, I thought there is quite a bit of erosion evident in surface features, this would suggest to me a far longer period than 5000 years of having water would it not?
I don't know if they are more interesting, but they are certainly a lot safer and the moons of Mars will probably be a human destination before Mars itself for that reason...some of those Mars dust storms could be brutal on new visitors to Mars.
Anyway, the moons, are in my book far more interesting places to investigate! Send the billions there!
Metallic Life:Various metals, together with oxygen, form very complex and thermally stable structures rivaling those of organic compounds. Some metal oxides are similar to Carbon in thier ability to form nanotube structures, and diamond-like crystals. Metals are all more abundant in Earth's crust than Carbon. Therefore metal-oxide based life is theoretically possible, and could occur in areas(such as in high tempatures) where carbon based life is not possible.
Nitrogen and Phosphorus Biochemistry: These are another possible basis for organic molecules. Phosphorus, like Carbon, is capable of forming long chains and macromolecules. These compounds become much less reactive in combination with Nitrogen.
Alternative Solvents: Water is required as a solvent for all life on Earth. However possible alternative solvent liquids have been discussed. Compounds discussed include ammonia, sulphuric acid, formamide, hydrocarbons, and at extremely low tempatures liquid nitrogen, or hydrogen as supercritical fluids.
Mars, with little or no magnetic field is thought to have lost much of its former oceans and atmosphere to space in part due to the direct impact of the solar wind. Venus with its thick atmosphere is thought to have lost most of its water to space in large part owing to solar wind ablation.
I see those as possibilities. However, when people ask why doesn't NASA search for these alternate life forms, I think the answer is, because they don't know what to look for. Once we find such an alternate form of life, then we can develop an idea how it works and learn how to search for it. But it's kind of hard to look for something when you don't know exactly what you're looking for.
Originally posted by Shark_Feeder
I really think NASA needs to start opening thier eyes to other ways life may have evolved in other parts of the universe. The ecosystems in place on Earth are not all that common, and life may have found other ways to persist. Some examples of possible alternative biochemistry.
I think so. I think the article referenced in the OP was careful to specify surface water. It doesn't really address the amount of subsurface water, and there could be a lot of it I suppose, though I don't really have any idea how much and I'm not sure scientists know either.
Originally posted by sweetnlow
what we know about earth is, there are massive water reservoirs under the largest deserts on the planet, and if this being true then if mars ever had liquid H2O on it, then as with earths deserts, mars would have the same going for it as well, or at least should have?