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cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-26, 10:14 PM
Hi,
I am new to this board, so please be gentle to me :)

I am writing because of the following images I've seen:

Please look at
http://www.curiousnotions.com/mars/mars_islands.html
and
http://www.marsanomalyresearch.com/evidence-reports/2001/019/firstvegetation.htm


What I am curious about is the following:
1) These images seem resemble 'undisputed' signs of vegetation, namely around the south pole on mars; mind you there are many more available!
2) On 'mainstream' press releases I only read statements like '...if water ever abundant on mars...' or '...perhaps life could emerged million of years ago...'.

My question: Why are scientists, or analysts so carefull to formulate 'signs' of present life?(if in fact present) One might almost think they prefer to focus on rocks and pebbles instead of the images of plant life on mars.

What do you think of these images?

greetings
Patrick, the Netherlands

JohnOwens
2004-Feb-26, 10:18 PM
Hi,
I am new to this board, so please be gentle to me :)

I am writing because of the following images I've seen:

Please look at http://www24.brinkster.com/haagsepatrick/mars.html
....

Well, that might work a whole lot better if the web server were up and running, now, wouldn't it? :roll:

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-26, 10:21 PM
changed the URL's, so they can be viewed!

Swift
2004-Feb-26, 10:27 PM
First, welcome on board.

If you go to the link on the first website for the original picture you see this info:

Scaled image width: 1.42 km
Scaled image height: 7.15 km

So these "trees" would be a good faction of a km (kilometer) across. That would be one big tree! It seems highly unlikely. Its a very dangerous thing to judge something purely by its apparent shape, particularly from one viewpoint. We have all seen clouds that look like horses, or meatloafs, but that doesn't make them a horse. Humans just love looking for patterns. Look around this website for a lot of discussion about this.

Lastly, they don't even look like trees to me.

freddo
2004-Feb-26, 10:31 PM
Arthur C. Clarke's 'bushes' eh?

Before anyone jumped the gun and claimed these were actually shrubberies, they were observed over a stretch of time. One of the characteristics of these formations is that they emerge over the Martian winter, and recede in the spring. The original thought on their composition was thusly confirmed - it's a seasonal permafrost (oxymoron i know) layer of (i think) frozen CO2.

Conditions on Mars, in the open air (what air?), are not at all conducive to life. This is why there is a focus on 'rocks and pebbles-' geologists are interested in the time when Mars would have been more hospitable - when that was and how accomodating it was.
It's a shame that Beagle 2 was lost - its mission focus was on evidence for life, rather than Martian geology (the two MERs specialty).

JohnOwens
2004-Feb-26, 10:33 PM
First, welcome on board.

If you go to the link on the first website for the original picture you see this info:

Scaled image width: 1.42 km
Scaled image height: 7.15 km

So these "trees" would be a good faction of a km (kilometer) across. That would be one big tree! It seems highly unlikely. Its a very dangerous thing to judge something purely by its apparent shape, particularly from one viewpoint. We have all seen clouds that look like horses, or meatloafs, but that doesn't make them a horse. Humans just love looking for patterns. Look around this website for a lot of discussion about this.

Lastly, they don't even look like trees to me.

Actually, the second website (as listed now) makes quite a point of the fact that these things must be over half a mile across; heck, the title of the page is "Giant Plant Species Found On Mars". So I don't think they're overlooking that point.

They remind me of the frost patterns on my window, personally. Coincidence? I think not!

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-26, 10:40 PM
Very true but:

(sorry for my bad english)

<<IF>>, plants needs to absorb basic ingredients to survice in nature they need, in the case of mars, more surface, meaning larger exposure of their 'branches', to be able obtain these ingredients, in the environment they life in. Thus explaining their larger size, as opposed considered normal on earth.

Take an example of plants adjusting to their environemnt, e.g. a cactus on earth, which is designed to sustain aride climate, by adjusting it's biological design.

These images do, not in my opinion, resemble a geological structure.

skrap1r0n
2004-Feb-26, 10:41 PM
Lastly, they don't even look like trees to me.

Would you recognize a martian tree if you saw one?

incidently, I don't think they are trees either but I had to ask the question

JohnOwens
2004-Feb-26, 10:43 PM
Very true but:

(sorry for my bad english)

<<IF>>, plants needs to absorb basic ingredients to survice in nature they need, in the case of mars, more surface, meaning larger exposure of their 'branches', to be able obtain these ingredients, in the environment they life in. Thus explaining their larger size, as we consider normal on earth.

Take an example of plants adjusting to their environemnt, e.g. a cactus on earth, which is designed to sustain aride climate, by adjusting it's biological design.

These images do, not in my opinion, resemble a geological structure.

And to continue your analogy, compare the sizes of desert plants to rainforest plants, e.g. sequoias and redwoods. Harsher conditions tend to produce smaller lifeforms, not larger. Especially if the harshness is scarcity of resources.

xbck1
2004-Feb-26, 10:43 PM
I don't think that's plant life. I've seen those images before and they could represent any number of things, inluding water seeping through the surface or some sort of network of small canyons and dunes. I personally have very little knowledge of those features, but I know they are most likely not plants. If they were plants, then they would be nothing like plants on Earth because they can very apparently thrive and grow to huge sizes in extremely harsh conditions.

Consider all the angles. I know that it's not likely that these things are plants because I realize:

1. plants of that size require lots of nutrients to keep them alive.

2. Plants like that don't grow in conditions like arctic desert; it's much too dry, and cold, and it's not generally conducive to large forms of life.

3. Mars has incredibly harsh weather and atmosphere: planet-wide dust storms, subzero temperatures at night, just to name two things. Not somewhere you want to visit for a while.

But hey, perhaps they absorb mostly barren rock and dust as
nourishment.


Edit: We'll just say I don't type very fast.

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-26, 10:46 PM
[quote]Lastly, they don't even look like trees to me

Would you recognize a martian tree if you saw one?
.

Did you really expect martian trees, if they are truely vegetation, to be the same as on earth?

freddo
2004-Feb-26, 10:55 PM
Erm, it's a seasonal formation... Why would a plant melt and sublimate in the spring?

xbck1
2004-Feb-26, 11:00 PM
Well, there is an incredible amount of diversity in our planet's ecosystem. All plants on earth are rather easily identified as plants no matter what the look like. Some are even red instead of the usual chlorophyl green and you can still recognize them!

I still don't think they're plants. If anything, they look more like a form of fungus growing on a petri dish or even something in the back of the fridge.

So, cuboctahedron, I have two direct questions for you and I want direct answers. Here they are: 1. Do you really believe these things to be plant life? 2. Why do you (if you actually think they are) think they are plants?

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-26, 11:10 PM
Basically, I believe that, any species adopt to its nature based on it's suroundings. If vegetation on mars can capture life-ingredients for survival by exposure 'plant'organism with more surface to obtain these ingredients from their obtainable 'air', it will do so. There are many examples on earth where organism adopt itself to their (hostile) environment.

To answer a question posted if I believe they are plants, I copy a statement from the link mentioned earlier:

... color gradations in same. The darker areas represent fresher healthier vegetation and the lighter the color grading the more and more unhealthy and dying or dead the vegetation...

It's namely this 'grading' that equally occurs on earth.

Perhaps the quest for other lifeforms beyond earth (not talking about UFO's or green men), is considered the same , as a few centuries ago, when a human was burned alive when saying the earth was a sphere as opposed to being flat.

Please bare with me, we sent probes to mars to detect (past) life, if any, but somehow it it considered heretage, if <<LIFE>> itself would be detected.

If this is NOT life, based on it's formation and properties, please debunk it for me (that's what I am here for anyhow)

xbck1
2004-Feb-26, 11:13 PM
You still didn't answer my questions.

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-26, 11:17 PM
fair:
you mention:
"
So, cuboctahedron, I have two direct questions for you and I want direct answers. Here they are: 1. Do you really believe these things to be plant life? 2. Why do you (if you actually think they are) think they are plants?
"

answers:
1) Yes, I do, as explained above; again not referring to ufo's hype or green men, just plain plant-life on mars.
2) Based on the grading of color; basically the structure remains, but the color changes.

freddo
2004-Feb-26, 11:23 PM
If this is NOT life, based on it's formation and properties, please debunk it for me (that's what I am here for anyhow)

Two things:

1) You can't shift the burden of proof like that. You can't prove a negative - so if you want to claim these are plants, you need to support that position with evidence.

2) Unless you're ignoring me - I've already told you what these things are...

They look like bushes! But they're not (http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/8_10_99_releases/moc2_166/)...

Defrosting sand dunes (http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/08/30/)...

I've been gentle with you but you're gonna wanna start reading this stuff...

xbck1
2004-Feb-26, 11:31 PM
Thank you for answering my questions directly. It was most helpful. But I still have some more.

1. What does a grading in the color have to do with plants? I realize they look rather like roots or branches of some kind, but there are still problems...

2. The "plants" seem to thin out towards the bottom of the images. What would make them do this if they are, in fact, vegitation? Life follows fairly recognizable patterns, and I've never seen large plants act like those are supposed to. The patches aren't even linked to each other.

3. The Martian environment in in many ways like that of the arctic desert - dry and really cold. Barely any life (besides microbial) is found there. Why do you think that Mars should be any different?

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-26, 11:31 PM
I'll read the links you've provided!, hopefully that explains some of my questions surely.

JohnOwens
2004-Feb-26, 11:40 PM
Perhaps the quest for other lifeforms beyond earth (not talking about UFO's or green men), is considered the same , as a few centuries ago, when a human was burned alive when saying the earth was a sphere as opposed to being flat.

You might want to back up this claim a bit as well, though it doesn't directly pertain to the topic, of couse. The one about the burning, that is.

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-27, 12:04 AM
quote: "The dunes are located in the south polar region and are expected to be completely defrosted by November or December 1999. North is approximately up, and sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left. The 500 meter scale bar equals 547 yards; the 300 meter scale is also 328 yards"

Question; Does this occus also on the noth pole?

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-27, 12:07 AM
Dear JohnOwens,
there is nothing to regret about that statement, since those are facts, I'm afraid.

We agree however that this topic has nothing to do with the statement mention on my behalf, I suppose.

freddo
2004-Feb-27, 12:09 AM
Question; Does this occu[r] also on the no[r]th pole?
I don't see why it shouldn't, I had a quick look though and couldn't find any really good matches.

But if you want you can:
Have a browse if you like. (http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/themes/POLAR.html)

Humphrey
2004-Feb-27, 12:19 AM
Dear JohnOwens,
there is nothing to regret about that statement, since those are facts, I'm afraid.

We agree however that this topic has nothing to do with the statement mention on my behalf, I suppose.

Can you give us information on that event?

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 12:41 AM
If this is NOT life, based on it's formation and properties, please debunk it for me (that's what I am here for anyhow)

Two things:

1) You can't shift the burden of proof like that. You can't prove a negative - so if you want to claim these are plants, you need to support that position with evidence.

2) Unless you're ignoring me - I've already told you what these things are...

They look like bushes! But they're not (http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/8_10_99_releases/moc2_166/)...

Defrosting sand dunes (http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/08/30/)...

I've been gentle with you but you're gonna wanna start reading this stuff...

I am very troubled, Freddo, by your comment that "I've already told you what these things are..."

If you are so utterly certain about conditions on Mars, I wonder a little that NASA didn't send the probe to your house. [-X

freddo
2004-Feb-27, 12:51 AM
I am very troubled, Freddo, by your comment that "I've already told you what these things are..."

If you are so utterly certain about conditions on Mars, I wonder a little that NASA didn't send the probe to your house.

Wha?

You're not making sense. Are you claiming that we don't know what the climactic conditions on Mars are? We've been looking at this planet a little longer than the two MERs have been there... We know how hot and cold it gets, how much air is about - and we watch the seasons change as the CO2 frost sublimates into the atmosphere. This gives us the ability to explain what we do and don't see when we look at Mars - trees kilometres wide doesn't factor into it.

We may not be 'utterly certain about conditions on Mars,' but that doesn't automatically render us utterly ignorant.


Arthur C. Clarke's 'bushes' eh?

Before anyone jumped the gun and claimed these were actually shrubberies, they were observed over a stretch of time. One of the characteristics of these formations is that they emerge over the Martian winter, and recede in the spring. The original thought on their composition was thusly confirmed - it's a seasonal permafrost (oxymoron i know) layer of (i think) frozen CO2.

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 01:06 AM
I am very troubled, Freddo, by your comment that "I've already told you what these things are..."

If you are so utterly certain about conditions on Mars, I wonder a little that NASA didn't send the probe to your house.

Wha?

You're not making sense. Are you claiming that we don't know what the climactic conditions on Mars are? We've been looking at this planet a little longer than the two MERs have been there... We know how hot and cold it gets, how much air is about - and we watch the seasons change as the CO2 frost sublimates into the atmosphere. This gives us the ability to explain what we do and don't see when we look at Mars - trees kilometres wide doesn't factor into it.

We may not be 'utterly certain about conditions on Mars,' but that doesn't automatically render us utterly ignorant.


Arthur C. Clarke's 'bushes' eh?

Before anyone jumped the gun and claimed these were actually shrubberies, they were observed over a stretch of time. One of the characteristics of these formations is that they emerge over the Martian winter, and recede in the spring. The original thought on their composition was thusly confirmed - it's a seasonal permafrost (oxymoron i know) layer of (i think) frozen CO2.

They could be lots of things. I don't really think they are trees, although I wouldn't rule it out completely. But for you to say you know for sure what they actually are is silly. Again, they could be lots of things.

freddo
2004-Feb-27, 01:17 AM
They could be lots of things. I don't really think they are trees, although I wouldn't rule it out completely. But for you to say you know for sure what they actually are is silly. Again, they could be lots of things.

I don't think so. Silly is landing a NASA probe in my backyard. Silly is claiming that plant life, kilometres across, are capable of emerging in the spring each year - but totally disappear after a short time. Oh and come back again the following year.


Because the martian air pressure is very low--100 times lower than at Sea Level on Earth--ice on Mars does not melt and become liquid when it warms up. Instead, ice sublimes--that is, it changes directly from solid to gas, just as "dry ice" does on Earth. As polar dunes emerge from the months-long winter night, and first become exposed to sunlight, the bright winter frost and snow begins to sublime. This process is not uniform everywhere on a dune, but begins in small spots and then over several months it spreads until the entire dune is spotted like a leopard.

The early stages of the defrosting process--as in the picture shown here--give the impression that something is "growing" on the dunes. The sand underneath the frost is dark, just like basalt beach sand in Hawaii. Once it is exposed to sunlight, the dark sand probably absorbs sunlight and helps speed the defrosting of each sand dune.


It's a geological process which we understand.

Archer17
2004-Feb-27, 01:29 AM
..They could be lots of things. I don't really think they are trees, although I wouldn't rule it out completely. But for you to say you know for sure what they actually are is silly. Again, they could be lots of things.I remember this coming up a while back and reading NASA's take that this was frost. freddo spared me the trouble of looking it up with his link. Daffy, while not ruling anything out and saying it "could be a lot of things," do you have any better ideas? If so, put it on the table. IMO the frost hypothesis makes sense and the folly of this being Martian plant life has already been addressed.

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 03:03 AM
..They could be lots of things. I don't really think they are trees, although I wouldn't rule it out completely. But for you to say you know for sure what they actually are is silly. Again, they could be lots of things.I remember this coming up a while back and reading NASA's take that this was frost. freddo spared me the trouble of looking it up with his link. Daffy, while not ruling anything out and saying it "could be a lot of things," do you have any better ideas? If so, put it on the table. IMO the frost hypothesis makes sense and the folly of this being Martian plant life has already been addressed.

My only objection was to Freddo's claim that he knows exactly what they are. I mean why go to the planet at all? That said, I really don't think they are plants...although I do think they should be examined more closely.

The argument against frost, btw, is that the areas in shadow seem to expand first. At least, that was according to an article at Space.com. No, I don't have any better ideas...which is exactly why I surely would like to see them investigated better. I don't think we do know for certain what they are.

Killshot
2004-Feb-27, 03:40 AM
i dont think they look like vegitation at all.. but it sure does look neat
I've always hoped that one day we could land a rover near the edge of the poles.. being able to have a photo of the ice and the interesting geologic features it must create in one shot would be pretty amazing

freddo
2004-Feb-27, 04:00 AM
i dont think they look like vegitation at all.. but it sure does look neat
I've always hoped that one day we could land a rover near the edge of the poles.. being able to have a photo of the ice and the interesting geologic features it must create in one shot would be pretty amazing
Well the argument is that the dark patches are merely darker coloured sand, so I would be inclined to think whatever view you get from the ground - isn't going to look as impressive as from the air...

Not to say it won't be interesting.

Archer17
2004-Feb-27, 05:07 AM
..They could be lots of things. I don't really think they are trees, although I wouldn't rule it out completely. But for you to say you know for sure what they actually are is silly. Again, they could be lots of things.I remember this coming up a while back and reading NASA's take that this was frost. freddo spared me the trouble of looking it up with his link. Daffy, while not ruling anything out and saying it "could be a lot of things," do you have any better ideas? If so, put it on the table. IMO the frost hypothesis makes sense and the folly of this being Martian plant life has already been addressed.

My only objection was to Freddo's claim that he knows exactly what they are. I mean why go to the planet at all? That said, I really don't think they are plants...although I do think they should be examined more closely.

The argument against frost, btw, is that the areas in shadow seem to expand first. At least, that was according to an article at Space.com. No, I don't have any better ideas...which is exactly why I surely would like to see them investigated better. I don't think we do know for certain what they are.I didn't read the space.com article but I think there's a non-biological explanation and trust the folks that speculate that it's frost. I'm not against exploring it further Daffy, and am actually rooting for the current rovers/future exploration to find signs of life. Having said that, I don't think that we should rush to conclusions when seeing photographic anomalies. You have to ask yourself what it could be if it ain't frost and maybe you'll understand our skepticism.

aurora
2004-Feb-27, 05:56 AM
If there were shrubberies, kilometers across, wouldn't we see their signature in the planet's atmosphere?

freddo
2004-Feb-27, 06:05 AM
If there were shrubberies, kilometers across, wouldn't we see their signature in the planet's atmosphere?

Yes - there have been many experiments done over the years to search for traces of chlorophyll in the atmosphere - none conclusive. Additionally, I don't see why THEMIS hasn't already gathered data that supports the frost sublimation tilt - these scientists don't usually shoot their mouths off.

The only thing that makes one believe these are shrubberies (ni!) is that they look like plants... And as most all of you would know - our eyes are really bloody lousy at this - always seeing things in the mundane.

TriangleMan
2004-Feb-27, 12:18 PM
If there were shrubberies, kilometers across, wouldn't we see their signature in the planet's atmosphere?

That's the way to think about these things aurora!

hypothesis: giants plants on Mars

predictions from hypothesis: atmospheric evidence (such as chlorophyll or absorption at certain wavelengths)
. . .etc, etc.

Most 'alternative theorists' are not willing to take the next step of making predictions from the hypothesis.

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 02:05 PM
[quote="Archer17 closely.

The argument against frost, btw, is that the areas in shadow seem to expand first. At least, that was according to an article at Space.com. No, I don't have any better ideas...which is exactly why I surely would like to see them investigated better. I don't think we do know for certain what they are.I didn't read the space.com article but I think there's a non-biological explanation and trust the folks that speculate that it's frost. I'm not against exploring it further Daffy, and am actually rooting for the current rovers/future exploration to find signs of life. Having said that, I don't think that we should rush to conclusions when seeing photographic anomalies. You have to ask yourself what it could be if it ain't frost and maybe you'll understand our skepticism.

Rush to what conclusion? I'm feeling a bit defensive. Has anyone noticed that I have said several times that I don't really think they are plants? I just haven't heard a convincing argument as to what they actually are. This is a conclusion?

TheGalaxyTrio
2004-Feb-27, 02:46 PM
2. The "plants" seem to thin out towards the bottom of the images. What would make them do this if they are, in fact, vegitation?

Clear cutting. :o


Life follows fairly recognizable patterns, and I've never seen large plants act like those are supposed to. The patches aren't even linked to each other.

On a lark, I printed out some of the images with the round patterns and showed them to my microbiologist sister without telling her the context or scale of the image. She rattled off a number of Earthly microorganisms that form similar patterns. Even a sparky like me, at first glance, thought they looked like colonies of organsims whose individual extents are below the resolution of the image.

There's a definite "cellular automata" feel to some of the images. It's not too hard to imagine some sort of low gravity supercolonies of Martian lichen/mold/whatsis.


3. The Martian environment in in many ways like that of the arctic desert - dry and really cold. Barely any life (besides microbial) is found there. Why do you think that Mars should be any different

Ultimately, I'm in the firmly skeptical (but highly interested) camp on this one, but the easy answer is "because it's another planet where the life would have evolved to meet whatever conditions came about there." These things also appear in and around the ice caps... where the water is. :-k

Makes one really lament the loss of the Polar Lander.

R.A.F.
2004-Feb-27, 02:48 PM
Has anyone noticed that I have said several times that I don't really think they are plants?

Yes, you have also stated that you haven't ruled out plants as an explanation. Now you have to explain why you think that they "might possibily" be plants.


I just haven't heard a convincing argument as to what they actually are.

Please pardon me for saying this, but...It almost sounds
like you are asking for "someone" to prove that they are not plants. (I did say "pardon me") :) That's not the way it works.

From what I've read, the most reasonable explanation, (unless we get information to disprove it), is frost.

sts60
2004-Feb-27, 02:57 PM
Very true but:

(sorry for my bad english)

<<IF>>, plants needs to absorb basic ingredients to survice in nature they need, in the case of mars, more surface, meaning larger exposure of their 'branches', to be able obtain these ingredients, in the environment they life in. Thus explaining their larger size, as opposed considered normal on earth.

Take an example of plants adjusting to their environemnt, e.g. a cactus on earth, which is designed to sustain aride climate, by adjusting it's biological design.

These images do, not in my opinion, resemble a geological structure.

Welcome aboard, cuboctahedron.

Plant life does indeed adapt to its environment. Be careful, however, not to push this too far. Individual plants can only adjust within a range dictated by their genes. Species adapt by changing this range, to put it in a grossly oversimplified way.

Cactus species adapted to their environment, alright. But one cholla won't be vastly different than another cholla just because it happens into a more favorable spot. (BTW, John Owens: saguaro cactus get quite large - upwards of 50 feet or so.)

Anyway, other people have made the relevant arguments as to why this is most likely not plant life. But I really compliment you on
(1) the idea of a larger plant system in order to take extract sufficient sustenance from an inhospitable region, and (2) asking whether a probe meant to look for past life would find current life. There are problems in particular with (1), but (2) is related to an argument that began with the Viking probes.

Asking these questions shows you're thinking! Folks, let's encourage that.

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 03:04 PM
Has anyone noticed that I have said several times that I don't really think they are plants?

Yes, you have also stated that you haven't ruled out plants as an explanation. Now you have to explain why you think that they "might possibily" be plants.


I just haven't heard a convincing argument as to what they actually are.

Please pardon me for saying this, but...It almost sounds
like you are asking for "someone" to prove that they are not plants. (I did say "pardon me") :) That's not the way it works.

From what I've read, the most reasonable explanation, (unless we get information to disprove it), is frost.

I haven't ruled out plant as an explanation? Why would I? The chances are not zero (see the posting immediately above). They look like plants, and there is no alternate explanation that all agree on.

Again...please note this...I don't consider plants to be the more likely explanantion...not even close. But the "thawing" explanation doesn't seem to fit either. Why not look?

I have to go back to my first question...if the chances for life on Mars are zero, then why are so many reputable space agencies around the world even bothering to look? Why does it (seemingly) anger you so much that some of us just want to get a closer look at these things?

a) These things are interesting.
b) I am not in any way convinced they are plants...but if they were, it sure would be a boost for space exploration. And, if they aren't (likely), they are still very interesting, unusual features. Why not take a look?
c) We don't know everything about Mars. If we did, there would be no reason to go there.

Why not take a closer look? Please provide any explanation why this would be unreasonable in some future mission.

skrap1r0n
2004-Feb-27, 03:28 PM
Yes - there have been many experiments done over the years to search for traces of chlorophyll in the atmosphere - none conclusive. Additionally, I don't see why THEMIS hasn't already gathered data that supports the frost sublimation tilt - these scientists don't usually shoot their mouths off.

Again, this is coming from an ignorant newbie that does not have a formal education, just a passing interest.

Wouldn't it be a mistake to assume that an Alien plant would even USE chlorophyll for photosynthesis? I mean chlorophyll works on earth because the atmosphere filters certain wavelengths out and allows others through. Mars, Having a different atmosphere, would possibly render chlorophyll useless.

Of course, photosynthesis would be a necessity for a plant, so there would have to be a similar molecule, but I would almost have to assume it would not actually be chlorophyll.

Archer17
2004-Feb-27, 04:40 PM
[quote="Archer17 closely.

The argument against frost, btw, is that the areas in shadow seem to expand first. At least, that was according to an article at Space.com. No, I don't have any better ideas...which is exactly why I surely would like to see them investigated better. I don't think we do know for certain what they are.I didn't read the space.com article but I think there's a non-biological explanation and trust the folks that speculate that it's frost. I'm not against exploring it further Daffy, and am actually rooting for the current rovers/future exploration to find signs of life. Having said that, I don't think that we should rush to conclusions when seeing photographic anomalies. You have to ask yourself what it could be if it ain't frost and maybe you'll understand our skepticism.

Rush to what conclusion? I'm feeling a bit defensive. Has anyone noticed that I have said several times that I don't really think they are plants? I just haven't heard a convincing argument as to what they actually are. This is a conclusion?I think you're misinterpreting our skepticism. When I said "I don't think that we should rush to conclusions when seeing photographic anomalies," I was speaking generally. You're not the first person that posted here in reference to unusual Martian pics. My last sentence was directed at you but I see nothing wrong with it. There's no reason to feel "defensive." You asked what we thought the image showed, we told you. Whether you find our arguments "convincing" or not is up to you.
..I have to go back to my first question...if the chances for life on Mars are zero, then why are so many reputable space agencies around the world even bothering to look? Why does it (seemingly) anger you so much that some of us just want to get a closer look at these things?..I think most of the space agencies are looking for evidence of past life on Mars. As far as the "anger" thing, I think you're way off the mark. It seems to bother you that most of us are comfortable with the frost hypothesis. I have no problem with every square inch of the Martian surface being explored myself.
..We don't know everything about Mars. If we did, there would be no reason to go there.I disagree .. ever hear of colonization?

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 04:57 PM
I disagree .. ever hear of colonization?

Uh...you want to colonize but not fully explore the place? :wink:

I understand that most here are comfortable with the frost explanation for the "trees." What I don't understand is how you can be so certain that you don't even want a closer look. I just don't understand that.

How can you not be curious? There isn't one inch of Mars I wouldn't want to see more closely.

Btw, I am very much in favor in colonizing the place.

R.A.F.
2004-Feb-27, 05:11 PM
As far as the "anger" thing, I think you're way off the mark.

I agree...I know I'm not angry...The word I would use to describe my feelings about the idea of "Mars plants" is amused. :)

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 05:16 PM
As far as the "anger" thing, I think you're way off the mark.

I agree...I know I'm not angry...The word I would use to describe my feelings about the idea of "Mars plants" is amused. :)

OK, no one is angry or hostile. Accepted. Moving on...

Here is a link to an argument against the frost explanation:

Link to space.com (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/clarke_mars_banyon_010709-2.html)

Archer17
2004-Feb-27, 05:29 PM
I disagree .. ever hear of colonization?

Uh...you want to colonize but not fully explore the place? :wink:Did I say that?
I understand that most here are comfortable with the frost explanation for the "trees." What I don't understand is how you can be so certain that you don't even want a closer look. I just don't understand that.The answer (at least as far as I'm concerned) is in your first sentence. I'm comfortable with the frost explanation as it makes the most sense to me. I also have no problem with "taking a closer look" as part of the exploration process but don't share your opinion that the images are significant enough to warrant a special look like we did with Hoagland's "Face." I find the exploration of Mars fascinating and have said more than once that I'm all for exploring every nook & cranny of the Red Planet. We have to walk before we can run so it'll be a while before we get to the area referenced in those MOC images. Since this frost is transient, I hope this happens when it's there.

Espritch
2004-Feb-27, 05:30 PM
I understand that most here are comfortable with the frost explanation for the "trees." What I don't understand is how you can be so certain that you don't even want a closer look. I just don't understand that.

What makes you think we don't want a closer look? The thing is, it takes money, time, and effort to send probes to Mars and resources are limited. Taking a closer look is a non-trivial undertaking. So Mars missions have to be planed to maximize the scientific pontential. You can't just say, "That looks interesting. Let's go there." I'm sure NASA would love to send probes to places all over Mars, but what they would like to do and what they can do are somewhat different things.

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 05:35 PM
What makes you think we don't want a closer look?

See the above posts.

EckJerome
2004-Feb-27, 06:19 PM
1) You can't shift the burden of proof like that. You can't prove a negative - so if you want to claim these are plants, you need to support that position with evidence.

OR, provide a thoughtful/logical rebuttal to the detailed explanation provided with the NASA images, which I have not seen.


They look like bushes! But they're not (http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/8_10_99_releases/moc2_166/)...

Defrosting sand dunes (http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/08/30/)...

I've been gentle with you but you're gonna wanna start reading this stuff...

I agree with that assessment. One cannot make up their own theory whilst ignoring far more detailed explanations with instrument data to back it up.

aurora
2004-Feb-27, 06:41 PM
Of course, photosynthesis would be a necessity for a plant, so there would have to be a similar molecule, but I would almost have to assume it would not actually be chlorophyll.

Oxygen. If there was photosynthesis, we'd see oxygen in the atmosphere.

(I realize that some life does not depend on photosynthesis).

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 06:42 PM
I agree with that assessment. One cannot make up their own theory whilst ignoring far more detailed explanations with instrument data to back it up.

It's not my theory. I did provide a rebuttle; no one has responded to it. Like it or not, there are quite respectable scientists who do not agree with the frost explanation. If you ask me to provide evidence of this, I will respond that I already have. It has (so far) been ignored. I wonder why?

All I can say is, I am glad the people at NASA do have some curiosity...otherwise we wouldn't examine anything.

For those who have trouble understanding simple, declarative statements, I will repeat for the fifty-eleventh time: I do not think these things are likely to be plants. I don't think they are likely to be from frost erosion, either (reasons already provided). I would like an alternate explanation...which I don't think we'll get without a closer look.

Edited to add:
While I really, sincerely don't think these things are likely to be plants, I do find this rather interesting (certainly addresses the size/photosynthesis issues):

http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/enviro/EnviroRepublish_828525.htm

Espritch
2004-Feb-27, 07:19 PM
It's not my theory. I did provide a rebuttle; no one has responded to it.
I read the link about theories of life under the ice (actually I've read it before). The entire argument seems to center of the fact that dark spots occur first on low areas not directly exposed to sunlight.

Of course, if the process was biological, I'd expect the dark spots to occur first in areas directly exposed to sunlight since these would be the places receiving the most energy to foster growth. I suspect the reason these dark spots appear first in low areas it because this is where water naturally collects (i.e. it melts below the ice surface in the sun lit areas and flows to the lower areas). This is not sufficient proof that there is any biological component to the phenomenon.

There is no downside for a scientist to speculate that these things might have a biological origin. If they are clearly proven wrong, it was just speculation. If they are proven right, they were prescient. But the default position in science given alternative explanations of an observation is to apply Occamís Razor and prefer the simpler explanation. In this case, the non-biological explanation is simpler since it doesnít require additional assumptions. We know that freezing and melting processes exist on Mars. We donít know that life exists there. So the biological explanation requires additional assumptions which the frost hypothesis doesnít.

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 07:25 PM
It's not my theory. I did provide a rebuttle; no one has responded to it.
I read the link about theories of life under the ice (actually I've read it before). The entire argument seems to center of the fact that dark spots occur first on low areas not directly exposed to sunlight.

Of course, if the process was biological, I'd expect the dark spots to occur first in areas directly exposed to sunlight since these would be the places receiving the most energy to foster growth. I suspect the reason these dark spots appear first in low areas it because this is where water naturally collects (i.e. it melts below the ice surface in the sun lit areas and flows to the lower areas where it collects. This is not proof that there is any biological component to the phenomenon.

There is no downside for a scientist to speculate that these things might have a biological origin. If they are clearly proven wrong, it was just speculation. If they are proven right, they were prescient. But the default position in science given alternative explanations of an observation is to apply Occamís Razor and prefer the simpler explanation. In this case, the non-biological explanation is simpler since it doesnít require additional assumptions. We know that freezing and melting processes exist on Mars. We donít know that life exists there. So the biological explanation requires additional assumptions which the frost hypothesis doesnít.

No, it is not evidence of biological origin in that context. It is evidence against frost erosion, though...which brings me back to my original point: we don't know what these things are with any certainty.

But...regarding biological ideas: How about fungi? They like the dark.

Actually, since I read about that giant forest fungus (tens of kilometers in size; check the link), I guess I have to admit, I am starting to wonder just a bit. Still not (by far) the more likely explanation...but not out of the realm of possibility, either.

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-27, 07:34 PM
The entire argument seems to center of the fact that dark spots occur first on low areas not directly exposed to sunlight.
.

An accepted assumption nowadays is that 'possible' signs of fluid water occurs just there; in low areas e.g. trenches.

If water would be available there first, say every spring, that might account for possible plantlife, or dark spots, to occur there first.

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 07:37 PM
The entire argument seems to center of the fact that dark spots occur first on low areas not directly exposed to sunlight.
.

An accepted assumption nowadays is that 'possible' signs of fluid water occurs just there; in low areas e.g. trenches.

If water would be available there first, say every spring, that might account for possible plantlife, or dark spots, to occur there first.

Well, fungi do like water! Hmmm...in that terrain, would fluid water be lighter or darker than the surrounding area?

skrap1r0n
2004-Feb-27, 07:40 PM
Of course, photosynthesis would be a necessity for a plant, so there would have to be a similar molecule, but I would almost have to assume it would not actually be chlorophyll.

Oxygen. If there was photosynthesis, we'd see oxygen in the atmosphere.

(I realize that some life does not depend on photosynthesis).


Thats assuming that life would be aerobic, which is a rather radical assumption. Oxygen is a fairly corrosive and destructive element, I am under the opinion that the majority Terran life might be the oddity in the scheme of things. I mean for example there are vast amounts of Sulphuric Acid (H2 SO4) on Venus, which could be metabilized. We have Microbes here on earth that metabolize Hydrogen Sulfide (H2 S) and they have been determined to be the most primitive forms of life ever discovered.

I Understand the need for water to be discovered on Mars, as it is probably going to be a requirement if we are to make a trip there, but to assume Water, Carbon Dioxide, or Oxygen is a requirement for life is a bad assumption that will create a bad case of tunnel vision. I'll bet (hope) when we find life, it will first be in a form we least expect, possibly not recognizable at first glance.

/edit: Yes I realize I have moved away from PLANT life to life in general

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-27, 07:47 PM
another interesting link regarding possible plantlife can be found here:
http://www.earthfiles.com/news/news.cfm?ID=650&category=Science.

there is a quote saying:"it certainly gives rise to the speculation that there could be algae." - Michael McKay, European Space Agency.

JohnOwens
2004-Feb-27, 08:12 PM
Cactus species adapted to their environment, alright. But one cholla won't be vastly different than another cholla just because it happens into a more favorable spot. (BTW, John Owens: saguaro cactus get quite large - upwards of 50 feet or so.)

My mom's been raising cactus and succulents since I was 5, I regularly went to the local cactus & succulent club (yes, such a thing exists) meetings with her, and now I'm getting pictures from my parents' new digs in Arizona (including pictures of where the Large Binocular Telescope is going in :D ). Yes, I know a thing or two about saguaro, but they're still tiny by comparison, which was my point.

As for fungus, I think it would be a very relevant point that they don't manufacture their own food, but are dependent on "leftovers" from other organics. So you'd be back to needing something else growing over those regions first, and then having the fungi feeding off their remains. All told, anything fungus-like is definitely going to evolve well after something that can make its own food does.

Except on Yuggoth, of course. :wink:

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 08:20 PM
As for fungus, I think it would be a very relevant point that they don't manufacture their own food, but are dependent on "leftovers" from other organics. So you'd be back to needing something else growing over those regions first, and then having the fungi feeding off their remains. All told, anything fungus-like is definitely going to evolve well after something that can make its own food does.

Except on Yuggoth, of course. :wink:

I agree regarding Terran fungi. Is it impossible that Martian fungi could get nutrients from soil and/or brine?

Life as we know it...what about life as we don't know it?

JohnOwens
2004-Feb-27, 08:30 PM
As for fungus, I think it would be a very relevant point that they don't manufacture their own food, but are dependent on "leftovers" from other organics. So you'd be back to needing something else growing over those regions first, and then having the fungi feeding off their remains. All told, anything fungus-like is definitely going to evolve well after something that can make its own food does.

Except on Yuggoth, of course. :wink:

I agree regarding Terran fungi. Is it impossible that Martian fungi could get nutrients from soil and/or brine?

Life as we know it...what about life as we don't know it?

Define "soil". Anything we'd call "soil" here is the result of eons of decomposing plants, mixed in with stony materials, clay, etc. So of course fungi can live off of that, for a while. But you still need pre-existing life that can produce a surplus of energy and store it in chemicals first. And brine? Forget it, it's just salt and water. It requires energy to dissociate either of those, and gets you very little energy to combine them.

And note how I'm specifically NOT saying "photosynthesis" or "sugars", exactly because I am thinking of life not as we know it.

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain.

skrap1r0n
2004-Feb-27, 08:33 PM
Hmm I always thought that fungi were somewhat parasitic. Now I could see some form of lichen growing where an algae and fungus provide for each other.

But again, thats assuming we are trying to define life in Terran terms. I am still hoping when we discover life, it will be so radical we won't recognize it at first.

Daffy
2004-Feb-27, 08:35 PM
Define "soil". Anything we'd call "soil" here is the result of eons of decomposing plants, mixed in with stony materials, clay, etc. So of course fungi can live off of that, for a while. But you still need pre-existing life that can produce a surplus of energy and store it in chemicals first. And brine? Forget it, it's just salt and water. It requires energy to dissociate either of those, and gets you very little energy to combine them.

And note how I'm specifically NOT saying "photosynthesis" or "sugars", exactly because I am thinking of life not as we know it.

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain.

I knew I was going to get called on to the carpet for using the word "soil." :oops:

What I'm getting at is that with a completely different set of environmental pressures, is it not likely that any hypothetical Martian life would have had to evolve completely different solutions from Terran ones?

In other words, could there be a fungus that does not rely on photosynthesis, or decomposed organics?

(Btw, I love that song! "Scrape 'em off, Jim!")

Ian Goddard
2004-Feb-27, 08:55 PM
In searching academic databases (key words: "dune spots" mars) for the expert view, all I find are a series of papers by the same group of scientists from Budapest. Their papers are online (see below). These scientists argue that the best explanation for Martian dune spots is biogenic. My unqualified shot-in-the-dark is that we're looking at geogenic phenomena involving the interaction of CO2 ice and contaminants. Perhaps dark sand wetted by H2O gets clumped up within CO2 sheets. They may be related to processes associated with spiders (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=209461#209461). But I've seen a lot of images that leave me far-more unsure that sure. Whatever the genesis, it's surely mysteries like this that make extraterrestrial exploration fun! :P

Here's an abstract from the afore cited Budapest scientists:

Orig Life Evol Biosph (2003 Oct;33(4-5):515-57) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=146041 89&dopt=Abstract): Dark Dune Spots (DDSs) are transitional geomorphologic formations in the frost-covered polar regions of Mars. Our analysis of the transformations and arrangements of subsequent stages of DDSs into time sequence revealed their: (i) hole-like characteristics, (ii) development and formation from the bottom of the frosted layer till the disapperance of the latter, (iii) repeated (seasonal and annual) appearance in a pattern of multiple DDSs on the surface, and (iv) probable origin. We focused our studies on a model in which DDSs were interpreted as objects triggered by biological activity involved in the frosting and melting processes. We discuss two competing interpretations of DDSs: development by defrosting alone, and by defrosting and melting enhanced by the activity of Martian Surface Organisms (MSOs). MSOs are hypothetical Martian photosynthetic surface organisms thought to absorb sunlight. As a result they warm up by late winter and melt the ice around them, whereby their growth and reproduction become possible. The ice cover above the liquid water lens harbouring the MSOs provides excellent heat and UV insulation, prevents fast evaporation, and sustains basic living conditions until the ice cover exists. When the frost cover disappears MSOs go to a dormant, desiccated state. We propose further studies to be carried out by orbiters and landers travelling to Mars and by analysis of partial analogues on earth.

Here are some of their studies:

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2002/pdf/1109.pdf
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2003/pdf/1134.pdf
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2002/pdf/1221.pdf
http://www.planetary.brown.edu/planetary/international/Micro_38_Abs/ms034.pdf

European Space Agency:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/ASE4YZ9KOYC_FeatureWeek_0.html

cuboctahedron
2004-Feb-27, 09:24 PM
It's interesting to notice mainstream organisations (e.g. ESA) are having a look at it too with an open mind, not hiding behind a dogma that life on Mars could only have exsisted millions of years ago.


a quote from the ESA link provided:


The spots are colonies of photosynthetic Martian microorganisms, they hypothesise, which over-winter beneath the ice cap. As the Sun returns to the pole during early spring, light penetrates the ice, the microorganisms photosynthesise and heat their immediate surroundings. A pocket of water, which would normally evaporate instantly in the thin Martian atmosphere, is trapped around them by the overlying ice


The Mars Express also confimed recently that vast amounts of ice-water was detected at the south pole.

That than can account for the presence of fluid water, increasing the odds for current plantlife.

Amadeus
2004-Feb-27, 10:16 PM
It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain.




(Btw, I love that song! "Scrape 'em off, Jim!")

Ask and google shall provide

http://home.wanadoo.nl/~sytze/sttrekkin/

back to the issue of life.... I believe life could exist in any form. However untill we find it we're guessing. There could even be an organism that lifes in space itself. Who knows? Lets just get out there and have a good look.

Swift
2004-Feb-27, 11:05 PM
Hmm I always thought that fungi were somewhat parasitic.
Most (earth) ones are not, in the sense that the feed off of living things and take nutrients without returning anything. Most feed off of decaying matter (dead planets and animals). Lichen are a co-creature, consisting of a fungus, which mostly serves as the host and in supplying some nutrients, and an algae, which serves as the photosynethic part. They are generally symbiotic, though there is some evidence that some fungus/algae relationships are not as "friendly" (but maybe not to the point of parasitic - one partner benefits much more than the other).

skrap1r0n
2004-Feb-28, 03:05 AM
true, I guess I was referring to things like tinea pedis, and trichophyton rubrum (yeah big words I had to look up, athletes foot and jock itch respectively), along with Ich for those with aquariums. Anyway, thats where I was coming from.

Ian Goddard
2004-Feb-28, 04:14 AM
Here's a NASA page on dune spots

Not Vegetation! Defrosting Sand Dunes in Late Southern Winter (http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/dune_defrost_6_2001)

that has many links including to these three studies:

* Supulver, K. D., K. S. Edgett, and M. C. Malin, Seasonal changes in frost cover in the martian south polar region: Mars Global Surveyor MOC and TES monitoring of the Richardson Crater dune field, Lunar and Planetary Science XXXII, Abstract No. 1966, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, Texas, March 2001 (http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2001/pdf/1966.pdf).

* Edgett, K. S., K. D. Supulver, and M. C. Malin, Spring defrosting of martian polar regions: Mars Global Surveyor MOC and TES monitoring of the Richardson Crater dune field, 1999-2000, The Second International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration, Abstract No. 4041, Reykjavik, Iceland, August 2000 (http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/abs/polar2000/edgett_etal_dunes.pdf).

* Malin, M. C., and K. S. Edgett, Frosting and defrosting of martian polar dunes, Lunar Planet. Sci. XXXI, Abstract No. 1056, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, Texas, March 2000 (http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/abs/lpsc2000/09_polardunes_1056.pdf).

Maksutov
2004-Feb-28, 05:14 AM
Information on lichens and some bacteria:

Lichens grow in the leftover spots of the natural world that are too harsh or limited for most other organisms. They are pioneers on bare rock, desert sand, cleared soil , dead wood, animal bones, rusty metal, and living bark. Able to shut down metabolically during periods of unfavorable conditions, they can survive extremes of heat, cold, and drought.

The lichen fungi (kingdom Fungi) cultivate partners that manufacture food by photosynthesis. Sometimes the partners are algae (kingdom Protista), other times cyanobacteria (kingdom Monera), formerly called blue-green algae.

Cyanobacteria can take nitrogen gas from the air and turn it into biologically usable compounds, so lichens with cyanobacteria can make major contributions to soil fertility.

I've seen lichens growing in very inhospitable places as a result of my various mountain climbing pursuits. No soil, no nutrients around, just cold, barren rock. And there are the lichens! The atmosphere of Mars has 2.7% nitrogen. I wonder if this is enough for the lichens, or at least the cyanobacteria, to get by? :-?

Gmann
2004-Feb-29, 12:20 AM
another interesting link regarding possible plantlife can be found here:
http://www.earthfiles.com/news/news.cfm?ID=650&category=Science.

there is a quote saying:"it certainly gives rise to the speculation that there could be algae." - Michael McKay, European Space Agency.

Be careful of what you read on Earthfiles. Linda seems to have gotten Mr. McKay to bite on the question that she tried to draw Dr. Squyers into a couple of weeks ago. He didn't go for it. She has a tendency to try to attach UFO's, Aliens, or Govt. conspiricies to almost any subject she writes about.

The Bad Astronomer
2004-Feb-29, 01:26 AM
The green image from Mars Express is a problem with their color calibration. It is not because there is green stuff on Mars. I have a page that will be going up about this very soon.

russ_watters
2004-Mar-01, 09:04 PM
Question; Does this occus also on the noth pole? No, but a nearly identical phenomenon occurs on my windshield on mornings of thin frost.

Just an observation, cuboctahedron, but it appears to me that your level of skepticism is far too low (not just this thread). It is certainly far below what scientists consider reasonable - and there is a reason scientists have the level of skepticism they have. You may want to explore that.

cuboctahedron
2004-Mar-01, 11:39 PM
It is certainly far below what scientists consider reasonable - and there is a reason scientists have the level of skepticism they have. You may want to explore that.

Excuse me! , I am just an hobbiest-scientist, basically an interested person, not preaching any truth in what I say, just asking questions that I find interesting and to inquire what others have to say about. No more or less.

If you believe that doesn't match you level of 'scientific' knowledge or wisdom, please just ignore me for that matter, but do not try to offend me because I am curious about Mars in general and ask questions about images I see floating around the internet.

The Bad Astronomer
2005-Aug-22, 10:02 PM
Sorry to bring up such an old topic, but David Morrison just answered a question about this for an Ask A Scientist-type site, and told me I could print it, so here goes:



Question: I have a question about the so called Clarke trees on Mars.
Although Nasa/JPL/Malin is investigating Mars, the scientists hardly report to the public about these Clarke trees. When I looked at detailed pictures of these structures then it is almost an impossibility to say that it isn`t of biological origin. Can you give me some new insight how the scientists are thinking about these features?

Answer: There are indeed some weird looking features in the martian polar regions, including those that Arthur C. Clarke has suggested are biological. However, the carbon dioxide polar cap, with temperature more than 100 C below freezing, is not a likely place to find life. Also these "trees" (usually called "spiders" by scientists), some of them more than 1 km across, are much larger than the life we might expect to find on Mars. But what are they? The first key is to understand the direction of illumination. It turns out that the spiders and also the features sometimes called "worms" are depressions, not positive topographic features. Second, we must note the location of the spiders on or under the thin receding edge of the carbon-dioxide polar cap. Third, we see that many of them are also the source of dark plume-shaped deposits extending in the down-wind direction. Using this information together with a detailed study of hundreds of these features, scientists have suggested that these represent a kind of carbon-dioxide geyser, formed as the polar cap sublimates from the bottom, trapping gas and building up pressures to drive the outbursts. This is an interesting hypothesis, but it needs more study by other science teams. However, some explanation of this kind is much more likely than a biological hypothesis. It seems to me that the fact that these are depressions or gullies is sufficient in itself to reject the notion that these are "trees". (If you want to read a technical paper on this subject, I suggest the paper by Sylvain Piqueux and colleagues on "formation of spiders" in the Journal of Geophysical Research, volume 108, published in 2003).

David Morrison
NAI Senior Scientist
website: http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov
website: http://nai.arc.nasa.gov
website: http://impact.arc.nasa.gov

tbm
2005-Aug-22, 11:08 PM
Greetings!

Obviously that is just disinformation by the government designed to throw water on another in a long list of things that prove that Mars was once a thriving metropolis of life and such.

NOT!

#-o

Regards, tbm

Daffy
2005-Aug-23, 02:42 PM
Well, I stand by what I said all those months ago...whatever they are, I sure would like a closer look because they definitely are interesting!

publiusr
2005-Aug-24, 04:50 PM
Erm, it's a seasonal formation... Why would a plant melt and sublimate in the spring?

Just playing devils advocate--but if I were a plant--I might want to follow the water. With different seasons, plants might have different looks. Waves of darkening would thus follow any naturally occuring cycle--and may only emerge every few years.

A lot of things operate on a lunar cycle here. The twin moons of Mars are too small--so some other cycle tied to Martian geology/isolated field effects might be a trigger--explaining sparse, random sightings.

Not that I believe that crap I just said--just working with the material as a for instance.

As for the oxygen--it just rusts out on the surface and joins peroxides and other oxides perhaps.

Nereid
2005-Aug-24, 11:36 PM
If we take a step back, it's easy to see there are a whole range of problems.

IF there is life on Mars, of an 'earth-like' kind, THEN a whole lot of things become highly unlikely ... such as stuff growing, in a way that's highly visible from waaay up high, in temperatures that low, lack of oxygen, liquid water (etc..) I mean, even from 1 km above Greenland or Antarctica (ice-covered or ice-free), how much do you see in the way of life? And that's with us having a very good idea of what to look for.

IF there is life on Mars, of an 'unlike Earth' kind, THEN we're even more at sea! First, none of our reliable guides to what life is like are reliable any more (so if we find something that 'looks like life', we can't answer the question 'but how do you know it's like Mars life?'; if we say 'it doesn't look like life', then we can't answer the question 'but how do you what Mars life looks like?'). Second, we have to some up with something reasonably robust - re 'life' - that we can use as a test. Anyone want to take a punt at what that might be?

However, whatever form surface life (on Mars) may take, if it's at all abundant (even if only seasonally), we would expect there to be footprints in the chemistry of the atmosphere (equilibrium, thermodynamics, what life 'does', etc), or in absorption spectra of the purported 'trees'. So far, no sign (OK, methane aside). Ergo, very unlikely to by any form of surface 'life' (unless it's truly exotic, e.g. really makes your thermodynamics toes curl!) ... underground life is an entirely different kettle of archaea.

dunwitch
2005-Aug-26, 04:45 AM
Well for, one, if they were trees, then some of them would've fallen over during the millions of years they have been there, but all you see are perfectly round structures. There are no dead trunks or branches. Second, they look like perfectly natural geologic formations, like crystal growths, and the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Since they look very much like the result of natural geologic processes, and they don't look very much like trees, it's probably safe to assume they aren't alive. Third, the images are altered to make them look more contrasty and sharp. This is making them look a lot more defined than they would otherwise.

If we do send a probe to that area and find gigantic trees growing, then I'll owe you a coke.

akochan
2005-Aug-26, 06:37 AM
Coming in late here....

But based on how the images "look" and the scale ... to me I see a snow field with some rocky outcroppings/hills/mountains which poke up from the "snow" due to some sort of melt or just because of their altitude alone.

In no way whatsoever do these "trees" look like anything but big rocky hills to me.

patrick
2005-Aug-26, 08:18 AM
they look like perfectly natural geologic formations

the simplest explanation is usually the right on

If the simplest explanation tends to be the right one, then let us consider the following:

- Fibonacci shapes strengthen biogenic arguments for these features (trees , along with spiders).

- These trees/spiders appear only in the South Pole, which, during it's summer season, is significant warmer than the North Pole. Chances of liquid water are more evident in the South, which probably correlates to the existence of these branched features there and indicate that their presence is related to more moderate temperatures.

- Many spiders reappear every season at the same spot, meaning these features are persistent and somewhat embedded in the soil, as opposed to e.g. gas vents. They become visible when ice sheets melt/sublimate during spring season and uncover these features.

- They look like plants, which is probably the reason why people are so eager to find a geological explanation. If they are "perfectly natural geologic formations" as you say, there wouldn't be any discussions about them to start with.

- In addition:
http://www.msss.com/moc_gallery/m07_m12/images/M08/M0804688.html
(image-strip of te famous Clark trees).

There are no dead trunks or branches
If you look closely on the image-strip, You can see that the 'trees' gradually become paler while their bushed-shaped structure remains identical throughout, which indicates less healthy, deterioration foliage, like we see here on Earth.

Eric Vaxxine
2005-Sep-07, 03:07 PM
These are not trees...but it does look like growth as we know it. Fungus.
With the low gravity, why couldn't something grow so massive ? This is a planet clawing it's way back into existance.

You'd think the Amazon was a big shrub if you looked at it from the right distance. Also, Mars has no atmosphere, but the pictures are not very detailed, not like google.earth. And our atmosphere?

NASA send their rovers to the desert????

ToSeek
2005-Sep-07, 04:19 PM
You'd think the Amazon was a big shrub if you looked at it from the right distance. Also, Mars has no atmosphere, but the pictures are not very detailed, not like google.earth. And our atmosphere?

The cameras in Earth orbit can be bigger and better than the cameras we send to Mars since the Mars probes have to be small. However, the next Mars orbiter is supposed to step up the resolution by an order of magnitude - should be something to see.