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Mars NASA Space

New Evidence For Ancient Life On Mars 186

Posted by kdawson
from the martian-overlords dept.
siddesu writes in with "compelling" new data that chemical and fossil evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars was carried to Earth in a Martian meteorite. The finding is being highlighted by the same NASA team who made the initial discovery 13 years ago. Spaceflight Now has more details of the analysis.
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New Evidence For Ancient Life On Mars

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  • Panspermia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Friday November 27, 2009 @05:55PM (#30250180) Homepage

    I'm rooting for panspermia. There's something kind of cool at looking at Mars and thinking: that's where we came from, and the rovers are just us coming home.

    • Re:Panspermia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by danlip (737336) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:22PM (#30250492)

      I'm rooting for independent evolution. It would make it far more likely that the universe is teaming with life. But unless we find current life on Mars, it may be hard to tell the difference.

      • Re:Panspermia (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:30PM (#30250556)

        Either case means the same thing, that life can travel and spread. It takes millions of years for a rock from mars to reach earth, and vice versa. If life can survive that journey, why couldn't it survive in some small way between stars, over billions of years.

        If life once existed on Mars, it will exist now. It is highly unlikely the entire planet became 100% sterile. There will be pockets of life surviving the harsh climate.

        The big question is exploration of Mars. If life evolved independently, we will have a much harder time mucking around there, especially colonizing it. Folks will want to leave it alone to its own devices. It life on Mars and life on Earth share a common history, it makes it much easier to muck around on Mars, because it'll just be another extension of life here so no worry about contamination.

        • Re:Panspermia (Score:5, Insightful)

          by c6gunner (950153) on Friday November 27, 2009 @08:31PM (#30251598)

          Either case means the same thing, that life can travel and spread

          No, they don't mean the same thing. If life began once and was seeded via meteorites, then it's a giant crap-shoot, and the vast majority of solar-systems are probably sterile. On the other hand, if abiogenesis took place twice in a single solar system, then the universe is probably teeming with life.

          If life evolved independently, we will have a much harder time mucking around there, especially colonizing it. Folks will want to leave it alone to its own devices.

          Hardly. It might raise some ethical conundrums, but it certainly won't make colonization any more difficult.

          If we ever colonize mars, we're going to start by building habitats. We'll have hundreds of years to live on a planet which we haven't even begun to terraform. That will give us plenty of time to have the People for the Ethical Treatment of Martian Lifeforms present a convincing case for why we should abandon an entire planet to a bunch of alien microbes. If they fail in convincing the rest of humanity, then we'll carry on with our terraforming effort, and the Martian bacteria will be relegated to sample jars, museums, and computer databases.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Solandri (704621)

            Hardly. It might raise some ethical conundrums, but it certainly won't make colonization any more difficult.

            If we ever colonize mars, we're going to start by building habitats. We'll have hundreds of years to live on a planet which we haven't even begun to terraform. That will give us plenty of time to have the People for the Ethical Treatment of Martian Lifeforms present a convincing case for why we should abandon an entire planet to a bunch of alien microbes. If they fail in convincing the rest of human

            • by bhiestand (157373)

              Hardly. It might raise some ethical conundrums, but it certainly won't make colonization any more difficult.

              If we ever colonize mars, we're going to start by building habitats. We'll have hundreds of years to live on a planet which we haven't even begun to terraform. That will give us plenty of time to have the People for the Ethical Treatment of Martian Lifeforms present a convincing case for why we should abandon an entire planet to a bunch of alien microbes. If they fail in convincing the rest of humanity, then we'll carry on with our terraforming effort, and the Martian bacteria will be relegated to sample jars, museums, and computer databases.

              Yeah, that sounds great if you're the one doing the terraforming. I suppose you'll have no problem when the Vogons come by to eliminate Earth to make room for a hyperspace bypass, relegating all of Earth to a computer database entry of "Mostly harmless"?

              I didn't hear him say "This is how we should be", just "This is how it'll happen"... As you're watching the AGW Deniers and anti-environmentalists getting dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, do you really think he's WRONG?

          • ...and the Martian bacteria will be relegated to sample jars, museums, and computer databases.

            Or perhaps more likely it will flourish and prosper during teraforming to the point it may become overwhelming dominant on the planet once more.

        • Re:Panspermia (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Tablizer (95088) on Friday November 27, 2009 @11:39PM (#30252496) Journal

          [If] life on Mars and life on Earth share a common history, it makes it much easier to muck around on Mars, because it'll just be another extension of life here so no worry about contamination.

          That may not be a safe assumption. When Earth organisms go into new environments on other parts of Earth, they often encounter microbes they are not accustomed to, and become ill or die. It could be a big risk.

          If ANY life on Mars is found, regardless of origin, it may be best to leave it alone. Send only one-way labs or colonies to Mars. Don't risk the sci-fi Andromeda Strain [wikipedia.org] come real.
             

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by timmarhy (659436)
            what makes you think it won't be the other way around, that our environment will be hosile to the martian bacteria?
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Tablizer (95088)

              what makes you think it won't be the other way around, that our environment will be hostile to the martian bacteria?

              That could be true also. Hopefully at least we can study Mars life before we destroy it. Something tells me human curiosity will investigate Mars closer one way or another. We may already have contaminated Mars because early probes were not cleaned sufficiently by some accounts.
                         

            • by Nathrael (1251426)
              +1 War of the Worlds reference.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Eh, I have to disagree on that point. It has historically gone more like this:

            -microbe evolves side by side with a human (or close human relative) population; the humans build up defenses against that particular microbe

            Then either:
            -Something changes (environment, nutrition, domestic animals, etc.) that tips the scales in one direction or the other, giving you a plague or a reduction in disease
            -A previously unexposed group of humans encounters the microbe; the microbe has evolved to deal with human defenses,

      • It would make it far more likely that the universe is teaming with life.

        If they did team up, what would they call themselves, and who would they play against? God maybe. That'd be one hell of a fight.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

          It could be hit and miss. Just because fossil evidence got here doesn't mean anything living made the trip. But, it does open up a lot of questions. If the Mars microbes didn't make it, that doesn't mean something else didn't. We'll figure it out in a few centuries, if/when we get some decent samples from other places that couldn't have originated here. We're an awful long away from retrieving samples from outside of this solar system.

      • Re:Panspermia (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jc42 (318812) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:51PM (#30251350) Homepage Journal

        It could be hit and miss. Just because fossil evidence got here doesn't mean anything living made the trip. But, it does open up a lot of questions. If the Mars microbes didn't make it, that doesn't mean something else didn't. We'll figure it out in a few centuries, ...

        Actually, astronomers figured it out a few decades ago. They concluded that, while the Mars -> Earth trip is difficult and unlikely, the other direction has happened with probability around 0.999999.... The mechanism is the Earth's "dust tail", a stream of gases and dust much like a comet's tail, but even thinner. It is thick enough to cause a problem for some astronomical observations, though, which is why some astronomers studied it during the 1960s and 70s. They found that the tail includes "dust" as large as bacteria, and since high-altitude airplane and balloon samples had shown bacteria at all altitudes, our default assumption should be that there are bacteria (mostly in spore form) in our planet's dust tail. This wouldn't be a million-year trip. The solar wind blows Earth's dust tail outward along the plane of Earth's orbit. It would sweep over each of the outer planets about once per year, contaminating each planet with bacterial spores in each pass.

        So if we find life on any outer planet that is chemically similar to bacteria here, we can't conclude anything about where it originated, except that the most likely source is Earth. It could have reached Earth from the outside, of course, and is just making the return trip.

        A fun part of these studies was the conclusion that this thin stream of bacterial spores does eventually get blown out of the solar system. Distances out there are large, of course, but if you look at the numbers, you find that the Earth takes roughly 4 trips around the galaxy every billion years. Since the earliest known bacterial life developed here, we've made 15-20 trips around the galaxy, spewing bacterial spores along our path the whole time. Chances are that they've pervaded the entire galaxy (very, very thinly). If they can survive the millions or billions of years in interstellar space, then we're one of the sources for the panspermia hypothesis.

        Of course, the astronomers didn't know anything at all about the survivability of bacterial spores in space. We still don't know much about it. That's the weak link in the whole guessing game.

        But it's highly likely that there are bacteria living underground on Mars, and they came from Earth. It would be a lot more fun if we found some there whose biochemistry was different from the micro-organisms on this planet.

        (I googled for this topic a couple of years ago, and didn't find much of anything. I wonder if there are any astronomers here who could point us to more details.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Walkingshark (711886)

          If your hypothesis is right, then any other earthlike planets are also spewing bacterial spores into deep space, which means that life all over the galaxy should be pretty similar.

          So maybe the aliens really will be coming to eat us.

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

            Something I like to bring up in these conversations is....

            There are 30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars organized into 80,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe. We estimate the age of the universe to be 13 billion years, based on our observable galaxy, which ... well ... it's not all that we can see. That's an awful lot of stars, in an awful lot of galaxies for Earth to be the only Earth-like planet. On average, there would be 370,000,000,000 stars in each galaxy. It's est

            • by bhiestand (157373)

              I'm not ready to call Earth an average planet. We have an awesome magnetic field and a tidally locked moon. Additionally, it's likely that the majority of planets exist outside of the liquid water zone, although we obviously don't know enough about formation of solar systems to answer that with any certainty. Insufficient evidence still, but it's not crazy to guess that ours is probably a rare planet.

              Of course, this is the universe we're talking about. Rare things happen all the time.

              • by JWSmythe (446288)

                I was going to go off on the egotistical humans, who think they are the superior race on their own planet speech, but I read the rest of what you said.

                Yes, humans don't know about the rest of the universe to even begin to understand how rare or not rare they are. Even if you consider the idea of an infant looking from it's crib into it's room and assuming "this is the world", without understand the size of the planet they are on. We've only seen the surfaces of a handful of

                • by bhiestand (157373)

                  I'm glad you read it all :). I almost put a disclaimer up top, but I always felt that was rather tacky. My local fundies say I'm a typical "arrogant atheist liberal tree-hugging fascist communist socialist pinko homosexual" so it would be a fun change to get called an arrogant religious fundie!

                  I absolutely agree we hardly know anything, and it's pretty amusing that so many people act like they know everything.

                  Since we're on that subject, my own WAGs:

                  • Magnetic fields are fairly common in 2nd and 3rd generat
                  • by JWSmythe (446288)

                    I agree totally. :)

                    But what's funnier to think about is the historians a million years ago on another planet, in another galaxy, looking back a couple thousand years on their own knowledge and saying "most of their predictions were fairly logical, given their limited data set, but we can clearly see evolution proceeding on many planets including that blue green rock in galaxy X19-FFZ." Too bad it will be thousands of years before we get access to their archives, and we (or mor

        • Re:Panspermia (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Tablizer (95088) on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:24PM (#30251878) Journal

          Actually, astronomers figured it out a few decades ago. They concluded that, while the Mars -> Earth trip is difficult and unlikely, the other direction has happened with probability around 0.999999....

          Mars-to-Earth is 100% because we found a dozen or so meteorites from Mars, proving it happens. (Kudos to Viking Landers for the chem analysis to compare.)

          Because of Earth's size compared to Mars, Earth was still a hot coal when Mars was almost like Earth today, with mild temperatures, relatively thick atmosphere, and lakes, possibly even oceans. Thus, life is more likely to have had evolved on Mars early in the solar system's history than Earth, if it was around then. Mars was the happening club in town back in the days.
             

          • by dryeo (100693)

            Considering that current theories about stellar evolution point to the Sun putting out about 75% energy back then the question then arises whether Mars had enough green house gasses to raise the temperature to liquid water temperatures that early in the history of the Solar System.
            Also when talking about that the early Solar System you have to consider bombardment.
            Earth early on seems to have been hit by a massive planetoid which would have remelted the Earths surface.
            There is also evidence that Mars got hi

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Hammer79 (1163799)
          If the Earth is leaving a dust & bacteria trail behind, the dust would still be caught in orbit around the Sun. The dust would orbit the galaxies core at the same speed as the Sun unless it was forced out the Sun's orbit by something else.
          • by jc42 (318812)

            Nah; the dust is forced out of the Solar System by the solar wind. For a good explanation of this, look up "heliopause". That's basically the surface where the solar wind reaches interstellar space, and the light pressure from our sun is no longer the strongest force on particles.

            Of course, it's more complex than that. As someone else mentioned, anything that gets within an AU or so of Jupiter is seriously deflected, and sent off on a different trajectory. The other planets have similar, but much smalle

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by caywen (942955)

          I wonder, though. If Jupiter is the solar system's vacuum cleaner, eliminating much of the deadly debris that might destroy Earth, then wouldn't it also act in the same with with panspermia dust from Earth?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jc42 (318812)

            Yeah, Jupiter would be a sinkhole for a lot of the debris being pushed out by the solar wind. But it's not all that effective. After all, Earth has a couple hundred recognizable impact craters, things the Jupiter wasn't able to grab. Astronomers have also been able to measure the smaller incoming particles, and they amount to several tons per day. (I wonder whether this is more or less than the loss via the dust tail. Anyone know the numbers?)

            I've seen a few references to an astronomer's comment that t

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

                It's a good idea, but....

                Earth, is struck by objects all the time. And... the planetary orbits are really big. There are lots of gaps for stuff to pass through. I'd wonder how much get stuck in the asteroid belt though.

            • There are lots of gaps for stuff to pass through.

              I would rephrase that, for specificity: By a very, very wide margin, gaps are the rule, not the exception.
              To quote a post above, Anything that gets within an AU or so of Jupiter is seriously deflected, and sent off on a different trajectory.
              A radius of one AU means a diameter of two. Jupiter's orbital perimeter measures around thirty AUs, give or take a couple.
              So, if two out of thirty AUs are covered, that's one fifteenth "protection" against any celestial

              • by JWSmythe (446288)

                    I'm not going to do the math on the total coverage area of a thong or chastity belt, but I'd guess chastity belt is closer to the correct coverage size. :) If you wore some socks too, that'd cover for the debris in it's orbit too. :)

                   

    • by Tibia1 (1615959) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:05PM (#30250920)
      It's going to be funny when they find a fossil of an ancient rover on mars.
      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        The life was on Mars first though - so they'd be more likely to find an ancient rover on Earth...

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          The life was on Mars first though - so they'd be more likely to find an ancient rover on Earth...

          Do you have evidence of that, or are you just one of those "pyramids on mars" wackos?

          • by Urza9814 (883915)

            Umm, TFA?

            ancient microbial life on Mars was carried to Earth in a Martian meteorite.

            • by c6gunner (950153)

              Umm, TFA?

              ancient microbial life on Mars was carried to Earth in a Martian meteorite.

              I don't think you actually read TFA. Here's a quote:

              It showed that microscopic worm-like structures found in a Martian meteorite that hit the Earth 13,000 years ago are almost certainly fossilised bacteria.

              FYI, life on Earth has existed for more than 13,000 years. Even given a few million years in orbit before hitting the earth, these meteorites would post-date the emergence of life on earth.

              Of course, if you're a YEC, just forget I said anything ;)

              • by Urza9814 (883915)

                This is slashdot! Who RTFA? :)

                But damn, if only that meteorite was a few million years earlier. That woulda been cool.

      • by jpmorgan (517966)

        It'd be funnier if they find a fossil of an ancient rover on earth. :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cheesecake23 (1110663)

      I'm rooting for panspermia.

      Naw, too messy.

      On a side note, can someone tell me the best way to clean my monitor?

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday November 27, 2009 @05:58PM (#30250230) Journal

    FTFA:

    According to scientists, the meteorite was broken off the surface of Mars by the impact of an asteroid, and reached Earth after floating through space for about 16 million years. It landed in Allan Hills in Antarctica.

    I instantly thought of John Carpenter's "The Thing"

  • Oh wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dartz-IRL (1640117) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:04PM (#30250286)

    It's life.

    Or was life.

    If this is true. It's just staggering to me. If there was life on Mars.... there may still be. If there was life on Mars, then how common is life elsewhere in the galaxy? If it can exist on ancient Mars, there's no reason it can't exist on any of the other millions of planets scattered through the billions of stars in our Galaxy.

    If life is found on Mars... or found to have existed.... then it can be anywhere.

    Under the ice of Europa aswell?

    While we may never meet our neighbours..... it would still be nice to know that yes, they may well be out there.... somewhere. The Galaxy may well be teeming. I sure hope it is. I mean, if it becomes clear that rather than being just blacks, whites.... whatevers.... on a cosmological scale where there is actual non-terrestrial life.... shouldn't it be clear that we all are just the one race?

    • by caywen (942955)

      In the past, the fighting was about who is the dominant, master race in this world. If advanced aliens were to land in front of the White House, the fighting would become about who is, um, the dominant master race who should represent us as a species.

    • Yeah, but think about the competition.

      Could get ugly.  At some point.
    • by Nathrael (1251426)

      I mean, if it becomes clear that rather than being just blacks, whites.... whatevers.... on a cosmological scale where there is actual non-terrestrial life.... shouldn't it be clear that we all are just the one race?

      Hopefully, yes. But I doubt it. There can be a metric fsckton of contradicting information, some people will still believe in utterly wrong things. Just look at all the Creationists or 9/11 truthers out there.

  • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:04PM (#30250288)

    This would certainly widen the belt for what we consider to be the "habitable" range, in our search for habitable exoplanets.

    • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:13PM (#30250378) Journal

      As a iochemist, it was my understanding that the habitable zone was already known to extend out toward Mars. Although really, I'd say that the concept of a habitable zone needs to be expanded anyway considering the possibility of life in the Jupiter system. I believe that it is becoming increasingly clear that there isn't just a single habitable zone around a star like our sun but also pockets of habitable space underneath the surface of various moons and terrestrial planets like Mars.

      • TFA talks about two other Martian meteorites which may have the same evidence inside. If this is shown to be the case we would have to assume that bacterial life on Mars is pervasive. This for me is evidence that low order life will be pervasive elsewhere, which makes me wonder why we haven't heard from the high order life forms?

        • This for me is evidence that low order life will be pervasive elsewhere, which makes me wonder why we haven't heard from the high order life forms?

          The conditions under which primitive life can exist are numerous. The same can't really be said of intelligent life. Bacteria can live in cracks over a km under the surface; animals and the like can't. Space is huge. 4.26 light years to Alpha Centauri alone. Signals degrade, civilizations collapse. There's a lot of things that likely make contact with ext

        • by khallow (566160)
          We have to find life on Mars first. The current evidence is still the weak evidence of a decade ago.
      • Re:Well (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:38PM (#30250654) Homepage

        As a iochemist, it was my understanding that the habitable zone was already known to extend out toward Mars.

        Well. there's a difference between being potentially habitable for a species, and finding remnants of actual life. Either life appear on both Earth and Mars independently, meaning there's actually a quite wide band of possible conditions - or life really transports across space. Either way is much more compelling arguments for the habitable zone actually being habitable than a theoretical zone based on temperature.

        • Re:Well (Score:4, Interesting)

          by lena_10326 (1100441) on Friday November 27, 2009 @10:04PM (#30252078) Homepage

          or life really transports across space

          Humans are generally considered a form of advanced life and we've transported ourselves and microbes across space. The thing I don't understand is why it's such a wild and crazy concept to consider the possibility of advanced life traversing space from Mars to Earth millions or billions of years ago.

          Either way is much more compelling arguments for the habitable zone actually being habitable than a theoretical zone based on temperature.

          If it isn't already, the habitable zone should be stratified into layers indicating habitable for humans down to microbes. Some people are only interested in discussing habitable for humans while others think more expansively. Thinking in layers would clear up any confusion.

          I propose using alphabetical labels. An "A" class for single cell organisms, "M" class for humans, "Z" class for .. hmm.. not sure yet.. maybe beings requiring hot conditions under high pressure [wikipedia.org].

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Humans are generally considered a form of advanced life and we've transported ourselves and microbes across space. The thing I don't understand is why it's such a wild and crazy concept to consider the possibility of advanced life traversing space from Mars to Earth millions or billions of years ago.

            Depending on how you guess the numbers of the Drake equation everything is possible, but the biggest question then is "where are they now?". I mean it's good for sci-fi and whatnot that there's lots of ancient and extinct and "let's stand aside and let younger races grow", but it'd be like asking humans to abandon most of Earth to give chimps a chance to evolve. There's very few places humanity has actually abandoned, on the other hand it could just be assuming too much. Who knows, maybe we were farmland th

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by danlip (737336)

      I think Mars was already considered habitable range. We know that billions of years ago Mars was warmer and wetter, and if it was a little more massive, so it could better hold an atmosphere, it might still be. All this is true regardless of whether or not Mars once had life.

  • ...NASA saw this!!! [wordpress.com]
  • Mars origin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Velox_SwiftFox (57902) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:06PM (#30250312)

    Can someone explain to me why the set of meteorites are considered more likely to have originated on Mars than from an impact on Earth itself?

    Are there Earth-origin ones known to distinguish them from, since debris from such an earth impact would more likely have orbits intersecting earth's, or is some other evidence used? I'm having trouble finding it.

    • A Giant asteroid or Meteor supposedly Hit mars with such force that it sent Meteorites of Mars... umm... Rock? (I want to call it Mars Earth but that sounds ridiculous) hurtling towards Earth. The meteorites properties remain consistant with those of rocks we've observed on Mars, hence why we predict their origin.

      The Bacteria is INSIDE the rock, not so much on the rock, so its believed the Bacteria was there before it hit Earth.

    • Re:Mars origin (Score:5, Informative)

      by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:16PM (#30250422) Journal

      Can someone explain to me why the set of meteorites are considered more likely to have originated on Mars than from an impact on Earth itself?

      Gas bubbles found in the meteorite have a composition that is very much like the atmosphere on Mars. The gas inclusions don't resemble those of Earth.

    • Re:Mars origin (Score:5, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:19PM (#30250460) Homepage Journal

      TFA:

      Scientists were able to trace the meteorite back to Mars, as its chemical composition matched the relative proportions of various gases measured in observations of the atmosphere of Mars made by the Viking spacecraft in the 1970s.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Can someone explain to me why the set of meteorites are considered more likely to have originated on Mars than from an impact on Earth itself?

      Are there Earth-origin ones known to distinguish them from, since debris from such an earth impact would more likely have orbits intersecting earth's, or is some other evidence used? I'm having trouble finding it.

      Got to actually read the articles. They explain the traces of atmosphere match Mars not the Earth. A number of other Mars meteors have been identified. The article even mentions two others with the same structures. Lots of good info if you read the articles. Once people throw in the towel and accept that there was or is life on Mars then the argument will be did it evolve there and is it part of the same evolutionary cycle as Earth? Those are the fights that will likely take decades and there may never be a

  • So here we have spent huge amount of resources constructing advanced technology to send robots to mars to investigate if there's life there, only to have the evidence flown to us with a piece of rock.
    • This is what we get for not sending the proper equipment necessary to excavate material from beneath the surface. An asteroid can dredge up material that is buried and send it out of the martian system; our simple robots can't yet.

    • by ianare (1132971) on Friday November 27, 2009 @06:54PM (#30250830)

      If it wasn't for the spacecrafts sent to Mars, it would not have been possible to identify the meteorite as coming from Mars. From the article : "Scientists were able to trace the meteorite back to Mars, as its chemical composition matched the relative proportions of various gases measured in observations of the atmosphere of Mars made by the Viking spacecraft in the 1970s."

      As for the rovers sent later, they were not sent to investigate life but mainly to study the geology and climate.

  • Send a bunch of scientists to Mars for at least ten years. Give them vehicles for mobility and drilling equipment. Of course it is possible that bacteria were in samples collected by Phoenix, but it is more likely the answers will be in the rocks.

  • It is our genes that push our kind to the Space, and it is our genes that are calling home. Wonderful thing that somewhere in our DNA strands lies our extraterrestial legacy.

    It could be the nature that put us here. It must be our civilizational effort to get outta here... before we shred this planet to pieces.

    • A DNA sequence from Mars would certainly be something. My bet would be on building a DNA instrument into a probe, rather than on sample return.

  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:11PM (#30250986) Journal

    I found no shortage of ancient life when I was in Miami last year.

  • These scientists are dead wrong. Men are from mars- not bacteria. Life probably started and spread from Jupiter, given how the guy loved to sleep around.
  • This one comment from the bacteria expert set off a red flag with me: "But it turns out that the magnetic bacteria make some very unique shapes of magnetite crystals. And one of the organisms we work with on Earth makes particles that look virtually identical to what we see from Mars in the meteorite."

    Virtually identical? What are the odds?

    OK, that's a rhetorical question. I have no idea what the odds are. But it would suggest going the extra mile in ruling out terrestrial contamination, before we decla

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