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Mars could be biologically alive

Old 04-24-05, 09:43 PM
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Mars could be biologically alive

BOULDER, Colorado – Evidence for intense local enhancements in methane on Mars has been bolstered by ground-based observations. The methane, as well as water on Mars, was detected using state-of-the-art infrared spectrometers stationed atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii and in Cerro Pachón, Chile.

Scientific teams around the globe are on the trail of methane seeping out of Mars. And for good reason: The methane could be the result of biological processes. It could also be an "abiotic" geochemical process, however, or the result of volcanic or hydrothermal activity on the red planet.

Many types of microbes here on Earth produce a signature of methane. Indeed, the tiny fraction of atmospheric carbon found as methane on our planet is churned out almost entirely biologically with only a very small contribution from abiotic processes, scientists say.

Lingering methane

New information on Mars methane has been acquired using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, as well as from the Gemini South telescope sitting on a mountain in the Chilean Andes called Cerro Pachon.

Michael Mumma, a lead investigator at the Center for Astrobiology and Solar System Exploration Division at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, presented the findings during the Biennial Meeting of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, held here April 10-14 and hosted by the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Mumma and his research colleagues have used ground-based spectrometers to carry out a simultaneous search for methane and water vapor. "Pronounced enhancements" of methane have been detected over several equatorial regions on Mars, consistent with "enhanced local release," Mumma reported.

In scientific terms, the methane line detected is "very strong indeed," Mumma noted. Using the high-tech infrared spectrometers, spectra of six narrow longitudinal bands across the face of Mars were taken. A spectra is an analysis of light broken into its rainbow of colors.

"Every one of these longitudes shows a very substantial enhancement in the equatorial zone," Mumma explained. "So this is a very intense source of methane on Mars in this region. It also requires a very rapid decay of methane…more rapid than photochemistry would allow," he added.

On Mars, the photochemical lifetime of methane is very short - roughly 300 years. Therefore, any methane now lingering within the martian atmosphere must have been released recently.

Mumma said that his data – along with what Mars Global Surveyor's Thermal Emission Spectrometer measured at the same time – suggests that "a major source" of methane over Valles Marineris is evident during the fall equinox on Mars.

Footprint of data

Spotlighted at this week’s meeting in terms of strong methane detection was an area on Mars east of Hellas Basin to west of Hellas Basin – and the eastern most edge of the large region where NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter found subsurface hydrogen in high abundance. That hydrogen is thought to be the signature of water ice, scientists said.

Moreover, for the first time, and using the Gemini South telescope, two lines of methane have been simultaneously seen on Mars. And when each is studied independently, they show a consistent abundance of methane on the planet -- within the narrow stripes across Mars scanned by the Earth-based gear.

Furthermore, the ground-based "footprint" of data extracted was contrasted with data taken in a similar time period by the Mars Global Surveyor’s (MGS) Thermal Emission Spectrometer. That Mars-orbiting MGS sensor yields information on the red planet’s surface pressure and temperature, as well as water vapor within the column of martian atmosphere the sensor is inspecting.

The MGS data helped validate the approach taken by Mumma and his colleagues.

Extremely challenging to analyze

The new results stem from observational sweeps of Mars done in 2003, made possible by two years of preliminary work.


Mars Express:
Pictures of Ice


Extreme Life


Mars Gallery


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The Best Mars Rover Images


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"We had to invent several new methods for analyzing the data," Mumma told SPACE.com. "These data are extremely challenging to analyze," he said, with the scientist drawing from his nearly 30 years of work in planetary atmospheric spectroscopy.

Mumma said the data collected from Earth is a step to help sort out biogenic versus primordial or geothermal origins of the Mars methane. Additional chemical tests can help constrain these possibilities, he added, but investigations from space, around Mars, or on the planet – perhaps even samples robotically returned to Earth -- are likely needed to reach a definitive answer.

Next up for Mumma and the methane on Mars quest is acquiring more telescope time.

Geologically alive, biologically alive…or both?

Requests are in for telescope time next January, both at the IRTF and at the W.M. Keck Observatory, also in Hawaii. Using the Keck facility, Mumma said his team could look for seven different types of molecules at Mars, allowing them to chip away at the question of biological versus geochemical production of methane.

Culling out from the data the release locales of methane on Mars is critical to the selection of future landing sites, "to search for organics that are either biological or abiotic," Mumma said. Finding out whether methane releases are seasonally dependent is also of keen interest, he said.

There is no doubt in Mumma’s mind that something is going on at Mars. "Mars was wet…was it also alive…or is it now alive?"

But "alive" could be geologically alive and not necessarily biologically alive, Mumma said.

"Or Mars could be biologically alive," he added. "Or maybe both. So to me that’s the real issue. Now we think that Mars is not a dead planet. Even if it’s just geology that is occurring and releasing this methane…that’s pretty darn interesting. And the geologists are very excited about this prospect."
http://www.space.com/scienceastronom...s_methane.html
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Old 04-24-05, 10:00 PM
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"These data are extremely challenging to analyze," he said.
Note to scientists: "data" is singular in English. No one says "datum."

Anyway, even if life is discovered, the people that want to rationalize it away will be able to do so... microbes being carried from Earth by asteroid impact, etc. It won't be until we find life either a) on the outer planets/moons or b) in another solar system that we can finally stop hearing nonsense from young-Earth creationists.
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Old 04-24-05, 10:58 PM
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The word data is a plural noun in the English language. Also note that scientists prefer to use correct grammar rather than common usage.
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Old 04-24-05, 11:02 PM
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i say they get the scientist working on if this guy is still really alive

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Old 04-24-05, 11:06 PM
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But I heard that some of the stuff they sent there wasn't even "sterilzed" before take off. So anything there could be from Earth.
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Old 04-24-05, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls
Note to scientists: "data" is singular in English. No one says "datum."
He should've said they data are. That's correct grammar.
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Old 04-24-05, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Deftones
He should've said they data are.
I'm pretty sure "they data are" is not correct grammar.
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Old 04-24-05, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls
Anyway, even if life is discovered, the people that want to rationalize it away will be able to do so... microbes being carried from Earth by asteroid impact, etc. It won't be until we find life either a) on the outer planets/moons or b) in another solar system that we can finally stop hearing nonsense from young-Earth creationists.
Actually, there are pretty easy tests to find out if any life on Mars originated on earth, so I don't think that is a big issue. I am 100% sure that there is biological matter on Mars that originated here. We have pieces of Mars that have made it to Earth, so it is only logical that the reverse is also true.

Also, I don't know why life anywhere besides earth would be damaging to YEC, and I am not one of them. Life elsewhere in the universe (which I don't personally believe exists) doesn't have any significance to religion....or at least I haven't read anything in the Bible that says that there isn't any.

Lastly, if methane only lasts on Mars for 300 years, doesn't that indicate that there would have to have been life on Mars within the last 300 years? Also, if there is enough methane for us to detect, doesn't that indicate that there must have been more than just a handful of biological stuff? It seems that if there is enough to catch our eye, then it wouldn't be so incredibly difficult to find evidence of it.

My guess is that this is like the first "microbes" that were announced years ago, etc. I think we have looked at the evidence and tended to favor the conclusion that we want to see. I believe this will go away and we won't hear about it again....but we might see it on the cover of Time or National Geographic, and never a word when the real cause is discovered a few years from now.
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Old 04-25-05, 12:21 AM
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This is so 2001.
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Old 04-25-05, 12:56 AM
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no, 2001 was monkeys making clubs from bones after touching the monolith
and then 2010 was a crap load of monoliths igniting the atmosphere of jupiter and turning it into a small star

this is more Red Planet
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Old 04-25-05, 01:02 AM
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, ok you got me on that one, but I wasn't referring to movies. I was just referring to the year.
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Old 04-25-05, 01:08 AM
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As long as it's not that piece of crap Mission to Mars. Total Recall I would accept.
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Old 04-25-05, 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Thor Simpson
Total Recall I would accept.
and i bet you can give us three reasons why...
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Old 04-25-05, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Sir Talos
The word data is a plural noun in the English language. Also note that scientists prefer to use correct grammar rather than common usage.
Usage dictates grammar.

Usage Note: The word data is the plural of Latin datum, “something given,” but it is not always treated as a plural noun in English. The plural usage is still common, as this headline from the New York Times attests: “Data Are Elusive on the Homeless.” Sometimes scientists think of data as plural, as in These data do not support the conclusions. But more often scientists and researchers think of data as a singular mass entity like information, and most people now follow this in general usage. Sixty percent of the Usage Panel accepts the use of data with a singular verb and pronoun in the sentence Once the data is in, we can begin to analyze it. A still larger number, 77 percent, accepts the sentence We have very little data on the efficacy of such programs, where the quantifier very little, which is not used with similar plural nouns such as facts and results, implies that data here is indeed singular.
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Old 04-25-05, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Also, I don't know why life anywhere besides earth would be damaging to YEC, and I am not one of them. Life elsewhere in the universe (which I don't personally believe exists) doesn't have any significance to religion....or at least I haven't read anything in the Bible that says that there isn't any.
There's no direct correlation, but YECs tend to think of humanity as the center of the universe. In which case, why would a creator bother with life on another planet?
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Old 04-25-05, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
, ok you got me on that one, but I wasn't referring to movies. I was just referring to the year.
I figured that, but thought I'd shake stuff up
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Old 04-25-05, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls
There's no direct correlation, but YECs tend to think of humanity as the center of the universe. In which case, why would a creator bother with life on another planet?

Who knows, why would he give a furry creature a ducks bill and the ability to lay eggs? Probably the same answer to both....he has a sense of humor.
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Old 04-25-05, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Sir Talos
The word data is a plural noun in the English language.
It's essentially either plural - "these facts are" - or singular - "this body of facts is." As long as you pick one and stick with it, you're correct.

- David Stein
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Old 04-25-05, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Who knows, why would he give a furry creature a ducks bill and the ability to lay eggs? Probably the same answer to both....he has a sense of humor.
Totally. If you were the almighty creator of everything, wouldn't you make things just to have fun? Look at the giraffe!
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Old 04-25-05, 10:50 AM
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Everytime an astronaut on the Shuttle flushes "stuff" gets released into the shuttle and probably in to space.

What if the "life" on Mars are evolved "Shit Creatures"? Pee Pee Pixies? Colon Colonies?
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Old 04-25-05, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Giantrobo
Everytime an astronaut on the Shuttle flushes "stuff" gets released into the shuttle and probably in to space.

What if the "life" on Mars are evolved "Shit Creatures"? Pee Pee Pixies? Colon Colonies?

Then they will conquer us and we will never even fight back.
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Old 04-25-05, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by sfsdfd
It's essentially either plural - "these facts are" - or singular - "this body of facts is." As long as you pick one and stick with it, you're correct.
In "body of facts," "body" is the noun, not "facts." "Facts" is always plural.
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Old 04-25-05, 11:19 AM
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Yeah, but what about the Inertial Dampeners?
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Old 04-25-05, 03:29 PM
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i farted
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Old 04-25-05, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by costanza
i farted
smells like your BO to me



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