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The Rat
2001-Dec-14, 03:10 AM
I was just over looking at this page;

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/reu/20011210/mars.html

I’m wondering what you folks may think of this line from that article;

“Significant water ice deposits easily accessible on the surface of the planet would benefit any future Mars mission astronauts and make it much more likely that life might have existed on the planet.”

“…might have existed…”?! I’m going to go out on a limb here, but in my humble opinion once life gets a start nothing short of a supernova is going to dislodge it. Look at the tenacity of life on Earth. It survives, and thrives, in environments which seem tailor made to destroy it. I don’t mean complex life forms of course, more on the level of bacteria, but I still find that phrase to be overly pessimistic. If life ever did start on Mars (admittedly a big ‘if’), or anywhere else for that matter, then it should still be around in some form.

I hope.

James
2001-Dec-14, 11:44 AM
Granted, Rat, we don't see life on the surface of Mars nowadays, it'd probably take an active imagination to kinda say where life'd be. For all we know, life could exsist below the surface of Mars.


Heck, for all we know, Mars could be hollow and have a thriving civilation in it. But, we don't know that, now do we?

Mnemonia
2001-Dec-14, 12:48 PM
On 2001-12-13 22:10, The Rat wrote:

If life ever did start on Mars (admittedly a big ‘if’), or anywhere else for that matter, then it should still be around in some form.


Assuming of course that water has been there in liquid or semi-solid form for all that time. For all we know life died out on Mars eons ago and this "possible" source of water/ice just below the surface may just be the remnants of some comet that hit Mars after life died out there. So it's a little premature to say that if there ever was life that its there now, seeing as how we do not know the origins of said water source.

ToSeek
2001-Dec-14, 06:13 PM
I agree that it's a remarkably pessimistic phrasing. "Might still exist" would be more optimistic and not out-of-line.

Chip
2001-Dec-14, 11:07 PM
I'm inclined to agree with you Rat in so far as if we ever build a small base on Mars with people and machines there doing on going long term research, not unlike the bases we maintain in Antarctica...(wouldn't that be great?)...then I think the following possible scenarios might happen:

A. We find no evidence for life.
- Which would mean that life never got started there.

B. We find life that previous probes missed.
Under the ground, inside rocks, near under ground water.

C. We find evidence of fossilized microbial life, but no life today.
For some reason, I think this is the least likely scenario in that I agree with your assessment that life is very persistent once it gets started. (Which doesn't mean it (life) doesn't have periods of flourishing growth and massive extinction.) I think if we discover "fossils (http://www.skypub.com/news/special/9904microbes.html)" of remnants of past life on Mars, that would mean that somewhere life is still living there. I could be wrong; I just have a notion about it.

Chip


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Chip on 2001-12-14 18:13 ]</font>

The Rat
2001-Dec-15, 04:03 AM
I agree with your assessment that life is very persistent once it gets started. (Which doesn't mean it (life) doesn't have periods of flourishing growth and massive extinction.)

I think the key here would be the amount of time in which the environmental conditions changed. It's possible that change could have been so rapid that not even microbial life would have had the time to adapt. But given a gradual change a lot of life forms could adapt easily. Vegetation would of course be the next most likely after microbes.

Which brings up another question. If we did discover life elsewhere, would it be so alien to our understanding that we would not even be able to classify it as flora or fauna? Can we be sure that the different forms we have here are the only possible ones? I know that nature on Earth has tried just about everything short of anti-gravity and the wheel, but could there be more?

Let's not forget J. B. S. Haldane's famous statement; The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it is queerer than we can imagine.