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#1 2012-04-02 16:01:49

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,931

Atmospheric Life in the recent past.

I bought a Discover magazine today, and read an article, "The Clouds are Alive".  The point in the article is that it seems that microorganisms high up, almost to conditions resembling Mars, and also in the clouds, serve as a catalist to freeze supercooled water.

The organisms would have to put up with UV, as this article indicates some of these organisms do.  I expect that Mars will be even harsher than our statosphere.

I am not so sure that I would believe that such organisms would be active at all or very common at least under the present conditions, except as dormant in the ice under the soil, which apparently results from snows a long time ago.

However there is fossel snow fall apparently from some thousands of years ago, when apparently the planet had a different climate.  The atmosphere might have been more hospitable to life, and even the surface.

I have recently read that Mars apparently has had a drought for 600 million years, by the evidence of lack of clay particles in the soil.

So the snowy times if they reoccur could not involve very extensive water melt.  However it is not out of the question that damp soil here and there would occur.

Then the organisms swept up in the wind, would assist the formation of snowfall to favor the survival of their own kind. 

From time to time, Meteors impact and there is ice exposed.

So, if these organisms were in that snow, perhaps that is the place to send a probe to investigate.  Either to thaw and recreate a presumed environment, and look for the organisms, or to use some other method.

I don't know if such a periodic ecosystem did exist, or if the snowfall that is in evidence was a recent one time fluke.  However, evidence in the permafrost of Siberia and Antarctica suggests that the organisms could survive for the thousands of years between episodes, in a dormant state.

So that environment might involve a atmospheric pressure of 11 mb, and snowfalls moving from the poles to the equator, and back from the equator to the poles.  During the peak of the shift, perhaps the organisms in the atmosphere would seed snow, and on occasion solar energy would reward them by making the dirty snowbanks moist with just a bit of melt water.

If the skill for causing frost existed in any such Martian life.

Last edited by Void (2012-04-02 16:06:54)

I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


#2 2012-06-05 23:27:03

Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,931

Re: Atmospheric Life in the recent past.

Well thanks for a reply to my lonely post.

I confess that I have partially reviewed your material.  I am waiting to go to bed when my hair drys, so that is the moral justification.

As far as liquid brine goes, I suppose that such a brine might support life, but on Earth such a cold very brine solution typically does not.

I have read other peoples posts about life clinging to films on salt crystals in the very dry deserts of Chile (Spacenut I think), and that is wonderful, but in that case they are not also coping with deep cold.  I am not saying it could not happen, but it is a very harsh challenge to any life form as I understand it.

However, in other posts I have suggested that the day night warm cold cycles might work on such a brine, to make conditions more happy for life.  It is typical that salt water exposed to cold will experience a precipitation in the solution.  Salt may precipitate out of the solution.  It is also typical that in the Arctic ice pack, after many seasons of thaw and freeze cycles, the top layer of ice might be somewhat desalinated.

So, I suggest that in certain circumstances on Mars, the soils "Durocrust" might experience such a situation.  In the night tiny ice crystals might freeze out of films of brine, and in the morining the suns warmth might melt them.  If said crystals were not more salty than the Great Salt Lake water, or perhaps even the Dead Sea water, then it is reasonable to speculate that in that short period of time an organism might encounter conditions which might support life.  I think that life processes in salt water can occur a few degrees below freezing on Earth.  So, I am presuming a surface organism that depends on the warm cold cycles of the duracrust or sandstone which is salty.

Yes salt can pull water vapor out of the atmosphere, even on Mars.  The day night temperature cycles can make it more habitable periodically for life. 


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.


#3 2012-06-06 18:39:09

From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,403

Re: Atmospheric Life in the recent past.

It is thought that seeding the upper atmosphere of Venus would be a way to start the teraforming of that planet but I agree that most of these are only viable over a thin temperature range and that even Venus is most likely not possible....


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