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#1 2005-05-09 00:13:36

Weave
Banned
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Registered: 2005-05-08
Posts: 14

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

[color=#000000:post_uid9]Hello,
I too have seen what looks like fossils and/or live organisms in some of the Rover's raw images. This is the one that intreges me the most is from the raw images from Spirit's sol 372 microscopic images. Image number 10, that is third row second image.
Image number 10
To me this really looks like Lichen. If you save the large image then zoom in on the the thing you can see what resembles veins or a pattern on the flat surfaces.
Take a look, if it is not, what the heck is it? What do you think?
Weave

Lichen: A typical lichen has a three-layered structure. A middle layer containing algal cells entwined in fungal hyphae is sandwiched between two layers of fungal tissue. This three-layered structure is arranged into one of three basic growth forms. Crustose lichens grow as flattened crusts with the bottom layer cemented to the surface of a rock or tree bark. Foliose lichens have a leaflike appearance, with a distinct upper and lower surface exposed to the air. Foliose lichens often form large, flaky patches on tree trunks. Fruticose lichens grow in hairlike, shrubby strands on the ground or hanging from tree branches. Each strand is tubular, with the typical three-layered structure surrounding a hollow core. A common fruticose lichen is old man’s beard, which hangs in wispy clumps from tree limbs and resembles moss.[/color:post_uid9]


[size=18:sig_uid]WEAVE[/size:sig_uid]

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#2 2005-05-09 05:43:25

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

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

[color=#000000:post_uid4]Hi Weave, and welcome to New Mars!  smile
    It looks like you browse through the MER microscopic images, as I do, checking for anything which might be a fossil.
    I have to admit, I find this picture intriguing, too, and I'm glad you've drawn our attention to it.

    I suppose this is the kind of terrestrial lichen you think this Martian object looks like(?) :-

                      [img:post_uid4]http://www.lichen.com/bigphotos/Cchicitaelg.jpeg[/img:post_uid4]

    I remember reading something by Dr. Carl Sagan (I think) which asked how an explorer on an alien planet might recognize life if she saw it - considering that the life forms there could take on exotic shapes and forms unlike anything seen on Earth.
    He suggested that the astronaut could look for a shape which is ordinarily unstable in a gravitational field. The terrestrial analogy given was a tree. An oak tree is an essentially unstable structure, which no inanimate matter is likely to emulate. Entropy would work against such a structure forming unless it were a living thing using energy to cause a localized reduction in entropy.
    For this reason, if you saw something similarly unstable on another world, it would be worth investigating, even if it didn't look like any living thing you'd ever seen before.

    It seems to me your Martian lichen looks unstable. It appears unlikely a leaf-shaped piece of .. whatever it is .. could have fallen onto that rock and be sitting there in what looks like such a precarious position:-

                  [img:post_uid4]http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/ … 2M1-BR.JPG[/img:post_uid4]

    But , if you ask me, there's a problem.
    Why, out of hundreds of microscopic images, would there be just one tiny 'leaf' of lichen on one tiny rock? ... Just one, all by itself?  ???
    If there were many of them protruding at all angles from several rocks, as in a colony, it would be much more impressive. The fact that it's only one makes it very much more probable it's just an unusual mineral formation.

    At the moment, and lacking any further data, I don't see how we can see it as any more than that - just a peculiar non-living  oddity.
    Does anyone else have an alternative argument? I'd like to be proven wrong.  smile[/color:post_uid4]


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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#3 2005-05-09 18:11:49

Weave
Banned
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Registered: 2005-05-08
Posts: 14

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Hi Shaun,
I'm happy to see the first reply to this discovery. I agree that it is very strange that this is the only example this type of anomoly. It is very hard to say that this is the only one of these things. The fact that the Rover planners have not been taking as many microscopic images as they have in the past, probably because the rock abrasion tool is pretty worn out on Spirit, might have something to do with the fact that no other such things have been seen. Spirit just happened to catch this one. I thought this thing might be something that dropped off of Spirit but after zooming in on the object, it is clear that it has what looks like veins on the flat surfaces of it. Also the fact that it has FLAT surfaces is strange in itself. Also it looks attatched to the rock and fans out from there, upward. It still looks very much like the Earth lichen in your photo.
There was an article at Space.com about other Lichen looking objects seen by the Rovers. None of them were in as clear a focus to see any details like what can be seen in this image.
It is very hard to say exactly what this thing is. I wonder if the rover scientists are investigating this object. One would think they saw it. But if they did, why didn't they look around that area for more?
Quick question. How do I add a photo to my post like you did?
Weave[/color:post_uid0]


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#4 2005-05-24 21:38:42

Weave
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From: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Registered: 2005-05-08
Posts: 14

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

[color=#000000:post_uid10]Hello again,
These latest Spirit raw microscopic images of the rock called, 'Keystone' are incredable to say the least! I have been examining them for an hour now and wow! I don't think it is just my minds eye seeing fossils or creatures. I see many things. For one in the center of the image there is a protriding object that resembles a mushroom. Directly behind it is something that looks like a flying reptile, almost like a miniture dragon. In the middle of other image there is an object that looks similar to the lichen image in the other post. It stand verticle and fans out from the base. These things look real. Take a look at the full size images. Let me know what you think. They are from Spirits
microscopic images from sol 491.
The two that intrigue me the most are:
[img:post_uid10]http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/ … 2M1-BR.JPG[/img:post_uid10]

and
[img:post_uid10]http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/ … 2M1-BR.JPG[/img:post_uid10][/color:post_uid10]


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#5 2005-05-25 05:16:08

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

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Thanks again, Weave, for drawing our attention to the MER 'micrographs'. As I've said, I'm always interested in looking for fossils because I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that we might find one in these amazing images.  smile

    However, while I'm very open to the investigation of any and every suspicious rock on Mars, I like to think I have high standards of proof - as I'm sure you do, too.
    Without wishing to appear unduly dismissive of your evidence, I have to say I'm having grave difficulties seeing anything in these two images which cannot be explained by geological processes. And honestly I cannot see anything resembling a flying reptile, no matter how hard I look.

    The point here, I think, is not so much whether there is actually a fossil flying reptile in the rock in this photograph, or not. The point is that any alleged fossil in a Martian rock must be indisputably a fossil .. there must be no room for equivocation.
    Even on Earth, where fossils are known to exist, there has been controversy over certain structures found in ancient rocks. Eons ago, colonies of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) left large, lumpy, mushroom-shaped formations in the fossil record, which are called stromatolites. And although there is little doubt among the experts about the biological origin of some of the more recent stromatolites found in the rock strata, some of the more ancient ones are not accepted by all scientists as being biogenic. Some believe there are explanations for these extremely old structures which don't depend on bacteria.

    You see my point?  ???
    If the same piece of rock, right here on Earth, which is readily available for detailed examination by our top scientists in the field, can be the subject of such a dispute, then the standard for Martian fossils in pictures must necessarily be very high indeed.
    In order to identify a formation in a Martian rock as being a fossil, that formation must stand out and scream "FOSSIL!!" in a resounding and absolutely irrefutable way!

    My opinion is that the photographs you've pointed out don't pass this test. But, again, I hope you'll continue the search because I think it's worth the effort.  smile[/color:post_uid0]


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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#6 2014-01-18 22:14:00

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

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

Lichen on Mars

Humans cannot hope to survive life on Mars without plenty of protection from the surface radiation, freezing night temperatures and dust storms on the red planet. So they could be excused for marveling at humble Antarctic lichen that has shown itself capable of going beyond survival and adapting to life in simulated Martian conditions.

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#7 2014-01-19 02:03:06

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

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

For a very long time I was always told that Mars was completely incapable of supporting life on its surface .  I'm happy they conducted those experiments.  It makes me wonder if it ever was established on Mars at one time.  I speculate that Mars has hadtimes when its much more harsh than it is now .  it's my opinion that Mars only periodicly is hospitable to life and so life that gets established would become extinct  when things got rough again .   But my thoughts are worth maybe two cents .

Last edited by Void (2014-01-19 02:19:04)


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

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#8 2014-01-19 09:30:50

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,794
Website

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

Mars axial tilt is almost exactly the same as Earth. Why? Some scientists think Earth's tilt is stabilized by the Moon's gravity. But Mars doesn't have a large Moon. If they're right, Mars could tilt over so that during summer one hemisphere is pointed directly at the Sun, continuous sunshine. During winter the other hemisphere is pointed away, continuous night. That would cause extremely deep cold, and freeze out CO2 as dry ice, reducing atmospheric pressure even further. Does that happen? No evidence it ever has.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2014-01-19 10:00:29)

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#9 2014-01-19 09:42:11

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,625
Website

Re: Lichen on Mars? - Is it?

Those photos are intriguing.  Wind erosion produces some very strange shapes,  and so does water dissolution.  Hard to say what those blade or leaf-shaped structures are,  without actually picking one up and taking it to a properly-equipped lab.  That's part of why we want to go there.

The experiments with exposing lichen to Martian conditions are also very intriguing.  The "killer" seems to be more the solar radiation (unfiltered UV I should think) than the "air" pressure too low to support stable liquid water.  I would have thought the lack of stable water would have been the bigger impediment. 

As I understand it,  the current thinking is that Mars was warmer and more Earthlike with surface water,  thicker "air",  etc,  between 4 and maybe 3.5 B years ago.  Apparently it lost its atmosphere,  dried up,  and froze after that,  with maybe some occasional warm "spurts" since.  The dessication process is where the salts and acidity come from,  just like here. 

My guess is that single celled life got started in those early oceans,  because that's what seemed to happen here.  Here,  for reasons not yet understood,  it took the best part of 3B years to get multicellular life.  So the real question for life on Mars is this:  did it get beyond single-celled before the planet dessicated and froze? 

The question is really time scale for evolution.  Life there only had a billion years,  it took 3 times that to become multi-cellular here.  Whether the multi-cellular transition ever occurred on Mars determines what kind of fossils you look for.  All of that is totally unknown to us and our probes,  and you cannot make determinations from nothing but photos. 

Here,  those rare rocks bearing fossil traces of bacteria are sometimes disputed,  but most seem to accept them.  The same kinds of traces,  at a different size scale,  were found inside the Allan Hills meteorite from Mars.  NASA scientists claimed they had found traces of bacterial life from long ago-Mars on the basis of that meteorite,  and got ridiculed for it.  Yet,  I'd bet that once there are people living on Mars,  what they will discover will prove the NASA guys correct. 

There's a type of layered rounded rock that we call stromatolites here.  They are thought to be fossil remains of mats of single-celled life that grew on a core rock in a watery environment.  That kind of thing is still living in our oceans today.  That's probably the kind of fossil we should be looking for on Mars.  But,  they may be very hard to recognize,  due to the extreme wind erosion there,  that is not common here. 

That's my 2 cents worth.

GW


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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