PDA

View Full Version : Life on Mars: A Definite Possibility

ToSeek
2004-Aug-30, 05:35 PM

This much is known: At some point in Mars's past, at least one region of the planet was drenched in water. Ancient Mars provided a habitat suitable for life as we know it. What kind of organism might have lived there? And is life lying dormant there still, just waiting for things to warm up a bit? No one can say. But one scientist, taking cues from earthly bacteria, has a pretty good idea of how a martian microbe could survive.

freddo
2004-Aug-30, 11:56 PM
It will be interesting to see how willing life is to form given the right conditions - from what I've read the probability even given perfect conditions - makes it still a long shot?

Taibak
2004-Aug-31, 02:50 AM
It will be interesting to see how willing life is to form given the right conditions - from what I've read the probability even given perfect conditions - makes it still a long shot?

Agreed. I'd also be interested in knowing how you'd tell the difference between a bacterium that originated on another planet and something that hitched a ride aboard a probe.

Tom Ames
2004-Aug-31, 04:22 AM
It will be interesting to see how willing life is to form given the right conditions - from what I've read the probability even given perfect conditions - makes it still a long shot?

Agreed. I'd also be interested in knowing how you'd tell the difference between a bacterium that originated on another planet and something that hitched a ride aboard a probe.

If it could be returned to Earth, this would not be a problem at all.

Taibak
2004-Aug-31, 05:09 AM
It will be interesting to see how willing life is to form given the right conditions - from what I've read the probability even given perfect conditions - makes it still a long shot?

Agreed. I'd also be interested in knowing how you'd tell the difference between a bacterium that originated on another planet and something that hitched a ride aboard a probe.

If it could be returned to Earth, this would not be a problem at all.

Oh? Please explain - this is something I'd love to know more about.

-Tai

Tom Ames
2004-Aug-31, 05:48 AM
It would be easiest if you could first culture the bacterium -- then you'd have plenty of material to work with, and you could worry less about contamination while you're doing the experiment.

But even if you have a small sample, you should be able to amplify selected regions of its genome using "universal" primers in a procedure called PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The amplification of certain sequences (such as ribosomal genes) would allow you to place the bacterium into its phylogenetic context. And it's likely that a contaminant of terrestrial origin would be from a common species, so this wouldn't be too tricky.

If the organism were of Martian origin, the amplification would almost certainly not work, for a variety of interesting reasons. If it did, though, and if the result indicated a highly divergent set of sequences, the history of life in the solar system would have to be COMPLETELY rethought.

Mellow
2004-Sep-02, 10:49 AM
Tom,

a belated welcome to the board, it's great for people like me to be able to read the thoughts of specialists in their field. I'm learning loads and loving it.

Sadly for me, I'm just a computer / business / marketing type of chap.

Cool, etc. :D