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#1 2021-03-14 04:07:05

Quaoar
Member
Registered: 2013-12-13
Posts: 644

Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

Hi to all,

After the futuristic laser sail-starship, I would like to talk with you about something of more easy to do in the next years: an unmanned probe able to land on a glacier in an unnamed crater of the Vastitas Borealis (70.5° North and 103° East).

Colour_view_of_crater_with_water_ice_article.jpg

The lander will have a probe with an electric resistance able to melt the ice, penetrate for a meter or two, then aspirate some water samples, examine them with a microscope and send the images to Earth. Bacteria-like microbial life forms can be detected easily with a simple microscope (if we see no bacteria the probe can also make a culture incubating the water with organic material for some days). If the final result is positive, we can plan a sample return mission in the same place.

Just one bacteria-like alien organism can answer many of questions that torment the astrobiologists from years: is DNA the only possible genetic information-barer material for all the life forms, or in other planets the natural selection might have chosen other informational molecules (TNA, GNA, PNA are only example)?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threose_nucleic_acid

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycol_nucleic_acid

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peptide_nucleic_acid

There are hundreds of amino-acids, but the DNA of all the Earth's life forms uses only 20 of them as the building block of the living being. Is that choice ubiquitous, or there are alien organisms using completely different amino-acid sets?

I would like to know an expert opinion on the feasibility.

Last edited by Quaoar (2021-03-14 04:19:55)

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#2 2021-03-14 06:34:06

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

For Quaoar re new topic!  Congratulations on launching this interesting and valuable initiative.

The Nation of Italy should be able to fund such an expedition.

You may be in a position in life to be able to persuade your countrymen to support such a venture.

This forum can surely help you to refine a presentation to achieve that goal, but in the end, it is ** your ** leadership that would cause the expedition to happen.

Best wishes for success with this new topic!

From Google I find:

The Italian Space Agency (Italian: Agenzia Spaziale Italiana; ASI) is a government agency established in 1988 to fund, regulate and coordinate space exploration activities in Italy.
Italian Space Agency - Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Italian_Space_Agency
About Featured Snippets

Please contact "agezia spaziale italiana" and invite them to join you here to fill out the details of your proposal.

Use NewMarsMember * gmail.com to request ID for them.

If Qatar can join with Japan to put a satellite into orbit around Mars, surely Italy can join with a friendly group to put your probe on a glacier.

(th)

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#3 2021-03-14 07:54:17

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

Excellent idea. The only problem I see with the project would be that robot missions seem to have such long lead in times, I think Space X will be on Mars already and looking into such matters - though I suppose Space X might be less keen on discovering life if it's going to hold up colonisation...

Quaoar wrote:

Hi to all,

After the futuristic laser sail-starship, I would like to talk with you about something of more easy to do in the next years: an unmanned probe able to land on a glacier in an unnamed crater of the Vastitas Borealis (70.5° North and 103° East).

https://www.esa.int/var/esa/storage/ima … rticle.jpg

The lander will have a probe with an electric resistance able to melt the ice, penetrate for a meter or two, then aspirate some water samples, examine them with a microscope and send the images to Earth. Bacteria-like microbial life forms can be detected easily with a simple microscope (if we see no bacteria the probe can also make a culture incubating the water with organic material for some days). If the final result is positive, we can plan a sample return mission in the same place.

Just one bacteria-like alien organism can answer many of questions that torment the astrobiologists from years: is DNA the only possible genetic information-barer material for all the life forms, or in other planets the natural selection might have chosen other informational molecules (TNA, GNA, PNA are only example)?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threose_nucleic_acid

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycol_nucleic_acid

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peptide_nucleic_acid

There are hundreds of amino-acids, but the DNA of all the Earth's life forms uses only 20 of them as the building block of the living being. Is that choice ubiquitous, or there are alien organisms using completely different amino-acid sets?

I would like to know an expert opinion on the feasibility.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#4 2021-03-14 10:20:15

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

For Louis re #2 ...

Thank ** you ** for a nice boost to this new topic!

May I offer a time frame for Quaoar to consider: The next Mars launch window ..

There isn't time to fiddle around with traditional 10 year lead times ... Fortunately, Italy is exempt from the NASA traditions.

For Quaoar ... May I invite your consideration of asking Japan for help?

The traditional European pathway your space agency might think of first is likely to be unable to fulfill the requirements of this mission within the two year window.

This is not a criticism ... I simply anticipate they are already booked through that entire period.

On the other hand, Japan may be ready and willing to accept new launch customers, and they clearly have the expertise to advise your engineers on how to plan for a successful flight.

Edit#1:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Space_Agency

This page was last edited on 31 December 2020, at 02:36 (UTC).

Impressive!  Promising!  Full of potential for future achievement!

(th)

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#5 2021-03-14 15:22:27

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,952
Website

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

Using the odd traces in the Allan Hills Mars meteorite as a guide,  Martian microbes might well be smaller than their analogs on Earth.  The traces in that meteorite certainly were. 

Similar traces in Earthly rocks are considered to be definitive traces of early microbe life on Earth.  But not those on that meteorite. Which is exactly why we have not yet discovered proof of early life on Mars.

Such traces,  being billions of years old,  contain no remaining organic components,  there are just physical forms replaced by minerals.  You recognize them by their appearance,  not their chemistry.  There is no chemistry left,  after such a long time and so many physical processes.  Which is really why you need a human geologist on Mars.

The other more common physical trace of microbial life is the rock type we know as "stromatolite".  These are layered carbonate rocks,  of marine origin,  not so much freshwater lacustrine.  These are formed by a mat of microbes depositing layer after layer upon the original substrate rock.  The layered form of bulbous rock "heads" is what you look for.  After billions of years,  all is replacement minerals,  no organics remain.

Perseverance might or might not find such stromatolite rock forms in Jezero crater.  While there was a persistent lake there around 3 billion years ago,  it may not ever have been salt water.  Here on Earth,  the stromatolites are all saltwater marine formations.  Although Mars could easily have been different.  Again,  you do NOT find this stuff with chemistry.  You find it by its physical appearance.  A human geologist can easily do that.  A robot's camera cannot.  Not at this time in our history.

There is a glacier in more than one crater on Mars.  That is a different environment from what I have been discussing.  There,  you would not be looking for rocky fossils,  but for preserved organic materials embedded in the ice.  A robot with chemical analysis capability has a decent chance to find such traces.

There would appear to be no such ice in Jezero crater.  But there's a lot of sediments,  and a lot of rocks.

GW

Last edited by GW Johnson (2021-03-14 15:26:29)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#6 2021-03-14 19:39:17

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

This is for me one of the main arguments for human landings on Mars. With a team of geologists and experts in organic chemistry we'll find out more in a month than we have done in 50 years of robot landings. While it costs a lot to get a human to Mars, we have to set that against the relative cost of robot missions.

GW Johnson wrote:

Using the odd traces in the Allan Hills Mars meteorite as a guide,  Martian microbes might well be smaller than their analogs on Earth.  The traces in that meteorite certainly were. 

Similar traces in Earthly rocks are considered to be definitive traces of early microbe life on Earth.  But not those on that meteorite. Which is exactly why we have not yet discovered proof of early life on Mars.

Such traces,  being billions of years old,  contain no remaining organic components,  there are just physical forms replaced by minerals.  You recognize them by their appearance,  not their chemistry.  There is no chemistry left,  after such a long time and so many physical processes.  Which is really why you need a human geologist on Mars.

The other more common physical trace of microbial life is the rock type we know as "stromatolite".  These are layered carbonate rocks,  of marine origin,  not so much freshwater lacustrine.  These are formed by a mat of microbes depositing layer after layer upon the original substrate rock.  The layered form of bulbous rock "heads" is what you look for.  After billions of years,  all is replacement minerals,  no organics remain.

Perseverance might or might not find such stromatolite rock forms in Jezero crater.  While there was a persistent lake there around 3 billion years ago,  it may not ever have been salt water.  Here on Earth,  the stromatolites are all saltwater marine formations.  Although Mars could easily have been different.  Again,  you do NOT find this stuff with chemistry.  You find it by its physical appearance.  A human geologist can easily do that.  A robot's camera cannot.  Not at this time in our history.

There is a glacier in more than one crater on Mars.  That is a different environment from what I have been discussing.  There,  you would not be looking for rocky fossils,  but for preserved organic materials embedded in the ice.  A robot with chemical analysis capability has a decent chance to find such traces.

There would appear to be no such ice in Jezero crater.  But there's a lot of sediments,  and a lot of rocks.

GW


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#7 2021-03-15 17:54:04

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,753

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

It's not just a lead time money for design its political selection of best to favored company...

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#8 2021-03-15 17:59:46

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

Quaoar is not limited to NASA, or in fact, to ** any ** US based organization.

I hope his initiative (should he proceed with it) will be well received by the Italian Space Agency, and the option to partner with Japan would eliminate all the roadblocks that trying to work with the EU is sure to reveal.

(th)

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#9 2021-03-17 15:42:58

Quaoar
Member
Registered: 2013-12-13
Posts: 644

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

tahanson43206 wrote:

For Louis re #2 ...


For Quaoar ... May I invite your consideration of asking Japan for help?


(th)


Sure.

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#10 2021-03-17 17:15:49

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

For Quaoar re #9

Game on!  Bravo!

Google came up with these links:

Embassy of Japan in Rome, Italy - EmbassyPages.com
www.embassypages.com › japan-embassy-rome-italy
Oct 27, 2020 · The embassy of Japan in Rome is located at Via Quintino Sella, 60 and can be contacted by telephone on 06 487 991 as well as by email ...
Consulate General of Japan in Milan, Italy - EmbassyPages.com
www.embassypages.com › japan-consulategeneral-milan-italy
Oct 27, 2020 · The consulate general of Japan in Milan is located at Via Privata Cesare Mangili, 2/A and can be contacted by telephone on 02 624 1141 as well as by email segret.cg@ml.mofa.go.jp.
Japan Consulate in Milan
www.consulate-info.com › consulate › Japan-in-Milan

I asked Google for the next Mars launch window ... this snippet was not very specific:

2022–23
Rosalind Franklin rover, Mars Orbiter Mission 2 (MOM-2)
Exploration of Mars - Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Exploration_of_Mars
About Featured Snippets

Effectively, this initiative has only one year to move from "wild idea" to "flight ready hardware".  That ** could ** be enough time, if existing hardware is pressed into service instead of trying to develop new.  I'm reasonably optimistic the US entities who built the Perseverance lander would be willing to provide a duplicate set of equipment.  Someone with the appropriate station in life would need to inquire.

The rover itself was built in the US by Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  The aeroshell and related equipment were built by Lockheed Martin ...

Google came up with this snippet:

Lockheed Martin Space
The aeroshell has two parts: the conical back shell and, at its base, a heat shield, both built by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver.
Mars 2020 Perseverance Launch Press Kit | Getting to Mars - NASA
www.jpl.nasa.gov › press_kits › mars_2020 › launch › mission › spacecraft

I would expect the probe/lander to be built by the Italian Space Agency, perhaps with guidance from JPL (after negotiation).

The rocket would be contracted for with appropriate entities.  If Japan proves to be the best partner, then they have a proven track record.

There would be ITAR issues very likely, but Italy is a strong US ally, so I would expect those could be ironed out so the aeroshell issue could be resolved.

Here is a more specific date for the next Mars launch window:

The mission is now called ExoMars 2022. Launch: The new launch date of the ExoMars 2022 mission is scheduled for 20 September 2022 on a Proton rocket of Roscosmos from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) and arrive at Mars on 23 June 2023.
ExoMars 2022 - Satellite Missions - eoPortal Directory
directory.eoportal.org › Home › Satellite Missions

(th)

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#11 2021-04-01 07:13:03

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

For Quaoar re topic....

An achievement by a Nation starts with the vision of one person.

You are such a person.  You have defined a worthy achievement for Italy, in the age of space exploration.

I believe there are thousands of your countrymen and women who would support a venture to land a scientific probe on Mars in the next launch window.

However, this will never happen if the voice of that one person is not heard.

Is there an email address in Italy that I could write, to inform (someone) of the power of your idea?

I think often of the great history of exploration of the Earth by Italians.   An Italian was on board the Magellan expedition 500 years ago, and it is thanks to his being one of the 18 survivors who completed the journey around the world, and to his meticulous recording of events, languages, impressions and personalities that we know about the trials endured and the successes achieved by the expedition.

Antonio Pigafetta's name will survive in history in association with Magellan because of his skill with words, and his persistence in dealing with the bureaucracy  of his time to secure support for publishing of his work.

If you can inspire the young people of your Nation (and their elders), then you may have the opportunity to likewise record their achievement.

(th)

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#12 2021-04-02 06:56:13

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 12,008

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

For Quaoar ....

I hope you are working hard to find appropriate support in the Nation of Italy for a mission to Mars in the next launch window.

I note you have opened a new topic about a mission to Venus.  I consider this to be overly ambitious!  I'd like to see significant progress on your Mars proposal before you start thinking about a mission to Venus or anywhere else.

You and your countrymen only have about a year to organize, fund and carry out all the activities that will be needed to participate in the next launch window.

I am confident that thousands of your countrymen are chaffing at the bit to join the great adventure of Space Exploration, but in the absence of leadership they will never see a way to participate or to support the undertaking.

A minimum action would be a Letter-to-the-Editor of a major news organization, but emails to appropriate people would be worth attempting.

If there is no response then at least you will have tried.

(th)

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#13 2021-12-31 05:55:11

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 4,782

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

Red velvet Mars
https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Imag … elvet_Mars

Like a sprinkle of powdered sugar on a rich red velvet cake, this scene from the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter captures the contrasting colours of bright white water-ice against the rusty red martian soil.

This delightful image was taken 5 July 2021 and soaks in the view of a 4 km-wide crater in Mars’ north polar region of Vastitas Borealis, centred at 70.6 °N/230.3°E.

The crater is partially filled with water ice, which is also particularly predominant on its north-facing slopes that receive fewer hours of sunlight on average throughout the year.

The dark material clearly visible on the crater rim – giving it a somewhat scorched appearance – likely consists of volcanic materials such as basalt.

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#14 2022-04-23 05:13:32

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 4,782

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

Building a home on Mars … with bacteria?
https://www.space.com/building-mars-hab … h-bacteria

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#15 2022-04-30 06:24:09

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 4,782

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

All of the Bases In DNA, RNA Have Now Been Found In Meteorites

https://interestingengineering.com/saud … -operation

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#16 2022-09-01 04:10:45

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 4,782

Re: Mars glacier mission to search bacteria

Perchlorate is dissolved in the water, which lowers the freezing temperature or other factors exist such as saline ice or hydrous mineral, lakes with salt concentrations 20 times Earth ocean pose challenges for life. Lake Whillans is a subglacial lake in Antarctica, analysis of water and sediment has revealed that they contain more than 3,900 kinds of microbial life. Antarctica Bacteria are surviving in this cold South Pole sub glacier Lake environment without photosynthesis, it also opens the possibility of astrobiology speculation of life inside liquid oceans below icy shells of moons like Europa. 
http://www.nature.com/articles/nature13667

Possibility of a Lake that is Subglacial?

https://www.science.org/content/article … e-cap-mars

First water map of Mars REVEALED: Incredible chart shows the location of ancient aqueous deposits on the Red Planet – and could help NASA choose where to land in the future
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech … uture.html
Now, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) have created the first water map of Mars, based on data from its Mars Express Observatory and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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