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#1 2001-09-07 09:54:33

Adrian
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From: London, United Kingdom
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 642
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Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

Wired published an article about the findings of a Hungarian team that suggest there might be evidence for life on Mars from Global Surveyor data. Their evidence consists of dark dune spots in craters near the south pole of Mars; these show similarities to organisms that exist on Earth.

I find this evidence to be a bit tenuous but I wouldn't pass judgement until I'd read the original paper or release they wrote on this. Thoughts?


Editor of New Mars

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#2 2001-09-07 10:13:42

Stu
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From: Kendal, Cumbria, England
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Posts: 318
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Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

I'd heard about this before your posting... it seems some people are suggesting these "dark spots" are actually huge trees or areas of vegetation. Um. They're certainly intriguing, and worth a more detailed look (anything "dark" on ice is always worth a look) but I'm not at all sure about them being "life". But you know what they say about stranger things...;)


Stuart Atkinson

Skywatching Blog: http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/Cumbrian-Sky

Astronomical poetry, including mars rover poems: http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/TheVerse

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#3 2001-09-08 14:41:51

GOM
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Registered: 2001-09-08
Posts: 127

Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

Hello,

I think it was those dark spots you mentioned that have convinced Sir Arthur C. Clarke about life on Mars.

Here's the link:

http://www.space.com/peopleinterviews/c … 10601.html

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#4 2001-09-08 15:25:53

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
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Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

I think Sir Aurthor C,
Clark is starting to show signs of his age.
I’m sure he was a great man,
(I haven’t read any of his stuff)
But some of the recent stuff I heard him say
puts doubts in my mind about his current objectivity.

P.S. I could be mistaken, and my information on him
is from news sources, so it’s not first hand.

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#5 2001-09-08 17:59:11

GOM
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Registered: 2001-09-08
Posts: 127

Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

Hi John,

Regarding Clarke you say:

"some of the recent stuff I heard him say
puts doubts in my mind about his current objectivity."

Okay.  Can you give us some specific examples?

Thanks.

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#6 2001-09-09 00:05:59

Stu
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From: Kendal, Cumbria, England
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 318
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Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

Re Clarke

I've been priviliged to have had some correspondence with Sir Arthur over this, and while he does seem very excited about these dark spots, and genuinely convinced they are large living organisms, I don't think his objectivity is in doubt. I believe that his own research, correspondence with a whole network of Mars enthusiasts and experts - and perhaps inside knowledge of the internal workings of NASA! - have all convinced him that the dark spots are organic in nature. Maybe, maybe not... I'd lean towards "not" personally... but I would hesitate to cast doubt on the objectivity of the great man just because he is excited about a potentially incredible discovery.

We need to image the surface of Mars in mich higher resolution, to answer questions just like this. We need the equivalent of a KH-11 spy satellite in Mars orbit, to zoom-in on small surface features. We need gliders and planes swooping low over the surface, beaming back live images.

But most of all we need PEOPLE there, who can go to a site, get out of their rover or hopper or whatever and go and LOOK, actually kneel down next to a mysterious "something" and poke it and see what the heck it is. That's why I have a slight problem with the whole Translife thing. It won't, in my opinion, accelerate the timetable of a manned Mars mission. We can learn all that stuff from dedicated ISS flights, or even Moon missions, as part of the build-up to a genuine Mars shot. And while it would surely represent a huge commitment from the MS, and would get good publicity, conversations I've had with people, young and old, have convinced me that *public* interest in launching an Apollo capsule of mice'o nauts would be very limited...

... and you know, there's a potential for a backlash against their disection after their return would probably make the whole mission backfire anyway. How is it going to make the MS - and Mars enthusiasts in general - look when we launch Pixie and Dixie into orbit, trumpet out how they'll be helping Mankind on his way to Mars and then the stars, and then cut em up and put the slices under microscopes? Hmmm, we're gonna be *real* popular... :-/

But back to Clarke. Sure, he may be saying some controversial things now, but remember, his past sneered-at "controversial things" include geostationary satellites, a Europan ocean and space elevators... wink

Stu


Stuart Atkinson

Skywatching Blog: http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/Cumbrian-Sky

Astronomical poetry, including mars rover poems: http://journals.aol.com/stuartatk/TheVerse

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#7 2002-01-16 19:03:59

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

I've seen these apparently anomalous surface features too, and I've seen Sir Arthur's comments on them.
   I think it's a brave person who tries to cast doubt on Sir Arthur's critical faculties! Having read quite a bit of his factual and fictional work, I get the impression that even running at half capacity his mind would be more than a match for most of us!
   Nevertheless, for what it's worth, the higher resolution pictures of what have been described as "banyan trees" don't quite cut it for me. Though initially their resemblance to trees is striking, I think we need to consider that crystals can grow into shapes very reminiscent of tree branches and that we are dealing with a non-terrestrial environment. Who knows what exotic mineralisation might occur under martian conditions?
   More intriguing, at least to me, are those "glass worms" dismissed as sand dunes by NASA. They do look, for all the world, just like enormous semi-transparent tubes with supporting ribs at fairly regular intervals. If they are indeed tubes, they give the impression that they could be biological in origin; almost like discarded snake skins! But the possibility of exotic mineralisation (say like bizarre lava tubes but perhaps based on flows of super-saturated chemical solutions) again springs to mind.
   Are there any geologists out there who have seen these pictures and can suggest plausible scenarios for them from a mineralogical viewpoint? Or, better yet, a biologist who can convince us that they are in fact biological artifacts?!
   Call me a romantic, but I still think they look more like worms than anything else! What do you think?


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#8 2002-03-17 14:46:51

Mariner34
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Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

The European Space Agency has published an article on its web site entitled "Martian Spots Warrent a Closer Look". The article discusses the dark dune spots that have been photographed at the Martian North & South Poles by the MGS spacecraft. According to the article, these spots have been studied intensely by Hungarian scientists such as Andras Horvath & exhibit biological characterists such as their location on The Red Planet & elipsoid shape. Finally, the article states that European Space Agency scientists support using the ESA Mars Express spacecraft to learn more about these mysterious dark dune spots. Posted By Rick L. SterlingMartian Spots Warrant A Closer Look

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#9 2002-05-31 14:13:15

curious
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Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

Actually, Clarke was referring to what looks like banyan trees.  There is a picture at http://www.space.com/science....-1.html

You can also access the original MSSS images by clicking on the picture at http://www.marsunearthed.com/Selecte....ees.htm

The MSSS site has data about the sun's angle of incidence, etc., that can be used to estimate the height of these "trees" from shadow length.  Using some simple trigonometry and rough estimates of distances I calculated that they are at least 300 feet high (close to 100 meters). 

I haven't heard any good explanation of what these things are, but I'm all for using Occam's razor... the simplest explanation that fits all the data is the best.  They look like trees to me.

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#10 2002-05-31 15:12:46

curious
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Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

Actually, Clarke was referring to what looks like banyan trees.  There is a picture at http://www.space.com/science....-1.html

You can also access the original MSSS images by clicking on the picture at http://www.marsunearthed.com/Selecte....ees.htm

The MSSS site has data about the sun's angle of incidence, etc., that can be used to estimate the height of these "trees" from shadow length.  Using some simple trigonometry and rough estimates of distances I calculated that they are at least 300 feet high (close to 100 meters). 

I haven't heard any good explanation of what these things are, but I'm all for using Occam's razor... the simplest explanation that fits all the data is the best.  They look like trees to me.

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#11 2002-05-31 15:23:34

Phobos
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Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

It would definately be amazing life if its capable of surviving on the surface.  I wonder though if there might be geological explanations for the spots?


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#12 2002-06-08 06:35:11

Christina
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From: UK
Registered: 2002-05-07
Posts: 59

Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

Admittedly the current survey is the one with the best technology and resolution, but...

I can't believe that we've missed 300 foot high trees in the past.
Yes Mars has seasons, the icecaps change, we know that, we can see it from Earth. But it also has vicious planetary duststorms which would do serious damage to vegetation on the surface.

I remain to be convinced. I think these anomolies are geological in nature at present.


the early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese

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#13 2002-06-09 00:56:40

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

It's almost as hard to imagine a geological process producing tree-like objects 100 metres tall as it is to imagine 100 metre trees on Mars!
   And why would trees choose to live so close to the pole and nowhere near the equator? I know there's probably more water-ice near the pole but that's not the only factor. What about the temperature?!
   On Earth, there's far more water as permafrost in arctic tundra regions than there is in, say, outback Australia. But you still get trees in arid outback Australia while the arctic tundra is, by definition, devoid of them. Why? ... because the far northern arctic is simply too cold, even though trees have had many millions of years to adapt.
   But the Martian polar regions make our arctic look like the French Riviera! With temperatures frequently on the wrong side of -100 deg.C, and searingly cold winds adding a wind-chill-factor beyond the wildest dreams of any thermal underwear sales executive, how could the Martian polar environment possibly sustain trees?!!
                                         ???


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#14 2002-06-09 08:09:31

Byron
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From: Florida, USA
Registered: 2002-05-16
Posts: 844

Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

I know it's a stab in the dark, but after taking a look at those pics of the mysterious "trees," I think they are giant formations of extruded ice/hydrate crystals that have been pushed up from underneath by unknown forces.  I just don't see how "trees" could grow, thrive even, in a near-vacuum environment in a place that makes Anarctica seem warm...it's far more reasonable to hypothesize that these are non-organic in nature, which is why I was quite surprised to see Sir Clarke make the hypothesis that he did.  :0

All the more reason for NASA to get off its butt and get people to Mars as quickly as possible..it'd be awfully nice to know for sure... wink

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#15 2002-06-15 06:10:50

Christina
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From: UK
Registered: 2002-05-07
Posts: 59

Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

It's almost as hard to imagine a geological process producing tree-like objects 100 metres tall as it is to imagine 100 metre trees on Mars!
  [/quote:post_uid0]
I'm thinking of the products of erosion, like 'the Old Man of Hoy' stack....
There's a lot of wind erosion on Mars, with those dust storms, I'll bet.

We have no idea of Mars' geological past.
And won't until we go and look at the layers.


the early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese

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#16 2003-05-08 15:23:19

malfunkshun
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From: Bay Area, CA
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Posts: 16

Re: New evidence for life on Mars? - Dark dune spots near south pole

[color=#000000:post_uid0]some more info here about it

http://www.angelfire.com/on2/daviddarli … latestnews[/color:post_uid0]


"Blessed Saint Leibowitz, keep 'em dreamin' down there." -- Randy Clagget, Commander, Apollo 18

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