Life On Mars?

The Martian meteorite that caused a minor sensation in 1996 when possible signs of Martian life were detected may indeed hold evidence of life afterall. Scientists have been analyzing the magnetite crystals in the meteorite and determined that 25% of those crystals meet the most strict criteria for biologically-produced magnetite. This evidence strengthens the contention that life once existed on Mars.

While these are just little bacteria, finding life on another planet is a major disovery. If planets like Mars could once have harbored even simple lifeforms at one point that means that the possibility of finding life on other worlds that much greater.

2 thoughts on “Life On Mars?

  1. Be very skeptical! Remember, ALH 84001 is the very same rock in which researchers thought they found fossilized bacteria–that finding has been discredited for years. The question of the biological origin of the iron oxide crystals (which has been going on for some time) is hardly settled, and there is reason for grave doubt, through you wouldn’t know that from the Cosmiverse article (which is simply a verbatim transcript of a JPL press release).

    Even if you accept everything presented in the article, the criteria for biogenicity have been chosen by the researchers themselves. The fact that scientists haven’t been able to produce certain crystalline forms of iron oxide in the laboratory doesn’t prove those forms can have only a biological origin. I’m sad to say NASA are shameless hypesters and they want desperately to find some evidence of life having existed on Mars. (The trend of scientists releasing findings by press release, which are accepted uncritically by the media, is a whole other sad story.)

    Having said all that, solid evidence of life on Mars would be extremely exciting.

  2. There are estimated to be 30 Billion terrestrial planets in this galaxy alone. That’s a lot of potential for the development of life- not to mention the possiblity that other forms could exist- (in the clouds of gas giants, perhaps?)

    Just because SETI can’t hear them doesn’t mean there out there. In fact, the use of radio in communications (what SETI can detect) could just be a blip of a few centuries or less before we develop some sort of communication we haven’t even dreamed of yet. Perhaps some civilizations never develop it, skip it completely… perhaps we’re surrounded by signals that just appear to be meaningless chaos and background radiation. We really don’t know.

    It’s a weird universe, folks.

    But I’m very excited about the possibility of life on Mars… not only because of the possibility of life elsewhere, but because of the possibilies for restoring life there someday. It’s only a matter of time before we pay Mars a human visit- hopefully an extended one…

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