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Mars NASA Space Science

BOLD Plan To Find Mars Life On the Cheap 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the budget-search dept.
techfun89 writes "There is a BOLD new plan for detecting signs of microbial life on Mars. The nickname is BOLD, which stands for Biological Oxidant and Life Detection Initiative, would be a follow-up to the 1976 Mars Viking life-detection experiments. 'We have much better technology that we could use,' says BOLD lead scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, with Washington State University. He elaborates, 'Our idea is to make a relatively cheap mission and go more directly to characterize and solve the big question about the soil properties on Mars and life detection.' To help figure out the life-detection mystery, Schulze-Makuch and his colleagues would fly a set of six pyramid-shaped probes that would crash land, pointy end down, so they embed themselves four to eight inches into the soil. One of the instruments includes a sensor that can detect a single molecule of DNA or other nucleotide."
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BOLD Plan To Find Mars Life On the Cheap

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  • False positives? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by srussia (884021) on Friday April 27, 2012 @06:46AM (#39818719)
    FTFS: "One of the instruments includes a sensor that can detect a single molecule of DNA or other nucleotide."

    I wonder how many DNA molecules the probe might encounter on its way to Mars.
  • The B.O.L.D. program hinges on detecting oxygen exchange

    What if the life form on Mars uses N2 instead?

    Nitrogen is a bit on the inert side to be useful as life's energy source.

    Well, what if they just breathe iron? You know, like some of the creatures here on Earth. [wikipedia.org] Mars has lot's of iron... it has sulfer, and even some water. I suppose the life on Earth currently uses oxygen, so that's what we're looking for? I mean, what about The Great Oxidation Catastrophe? [wikipedia.org] During which lots of this planet's anaerobic life was likely killed off (oxygen was poisonous to them, they didn't use it). Point being: We don't even know what to look for -- we have hardly any idea what the parameters of life are on our own planet. Until recently we thought nothing could survive at the bottom of the ocean, boy was that wrong.

    I guess you've got to begin looking somewhere, and looking for the presence of life as we know it is a good start. However, all evidence will be inconclusive as to the existence of life unless they actually find life, or we do a whole lot more exploration of Mars than we've done of our own planet.

  • Valles Marineres (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @07:00AM (#39818783)

    They should make a seventh probe, and aim it at the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valles_Marineris. It's kilometres deep so the atmosphere down there ought to be thicker (it's certainly more turbulent). Assuming Mars once had a thick atmosphere and running water (which seems to be the prevailing consensus) then it seems to me that the place that environment and any possible inhabitants would have been preserved longest is in the Valles.

    Unless, of course, this huge crack in Mars was the epicentre of some great event that stripped away the atmosphere in the first place...

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