Ever Life on Mars Term Paper

Pages: 5 (2270 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Astronomy

Life on Mars

Life of man is not only full of basic bare truths as can be evidenced through physical facts, as we may not know all physical facts of the world that we live in even till the time that we ultimately loose it as a group. The reason for this is the beliefs that come to us from our mind and in many cases our mind is stronger than our physique. Mars is an important element of our mind, and will probably continue to remain so as long as we exist. Whatever it may be, it is at least a very picturesque place.

The first reaction of modern man with Mars came in 1877 with the modern map of Mars where there were a number of items which he called "canali." This map can be seen at the end in the figures and pictures section. The word "canali" has different meanings in Italian, and was soon interpreted by the romantic in the rest of the world, in English as canals. (Life on Mars: Malin Space Science Systems) This also helped us to get rid our feeling of isolation in the universe, and probably proved in an indirect way that God was a ultimate ruler of man not only in this world, bit also in other worlds, and some of which could be seen by us. The question remains as to what Mars really looks like, and this can be best viewed from the NASA Hubble Telescopic view of Mars as was taken on February 25, 1995. This was taken when Mars was the shortest distance away from earth and roughly 65 million miles or 103 million kilometers away. (Mars Introduction) This is seen in the pictures section. There are of course shots taken by space probes, but those could have never been taken from earth and cannot be compared with the concept given in the map.

The interest continued and at the beginning of the space age, Mars was a very popular item on the agenda of all space scientists. When the Mariner 4 landed on Mars in July 1965, it took 22 close-up pictures of Mars. In the pictures there is only a surface of Mars, containing a large number of craters and along with that a large number of channels for the outflow from the craters, but there was no evidence of any artificial canals or of any flowing water on the surface of Mars. This space probe was followed up by the landing of two Viking missions named Landers 1 and Landers 2 during July 1976 and September 1976. These two satellites conducted some experiments in biology did not find any proof of any living organism, at least on the ground near the spot of landing. There were no evidences of even any micro-organisms. On the other hand there were many interesting chemical activity that was taking place in the same locations. It would also be difficult for any biological life to exist on Mars, as they would be killed by the conditions. There is a high amount of solar ultraviolet radiation, very little water on the surface, and the soil has high oxidizing properties. This however does not prevent the existence of life on Mars during earlier periods. (Mars Introduction)

It was known to have an atmosphere with a density about a tenth of the atmosphere on earth, water filled ice on Polar caps that increased and decreased with the seasons and an annual wave of darkening that was often interpreted as being signs of growth of plant life. However this could not continue indefinitely and the proofs about the existence of life on Mars came not from biology experiments which were first conducted, but through the launch of a special satellite called GCMS. This was unable to find any traces of life on the surface of Mars, despite its best efforts. There was again no organic matter, but that was known to be present on some meteorites, and thus the total absence of organic matter on Mars was a total surprise. Some felt that the results were influenced by the non-working of the GCMS but that is not likely since it could even detect traces of the cleaning solvents that had been used for sterilization of the GCMS before it was launched. At the same time, there was evidence that Mars was likely to have been much wetter earlier and this gives rise to the possibility that it probably had a denser atmosphere earlier. This could have led to the existence of life at that stage which died out as the conditions on the planet became worse. This gives rise to the suggestions from researchers that future searches of life on Mars should be on past forms of life than existing forms. (Life on Mars: Malin Space Science Systems) Thus clearly there is very little chance that there are existing forms of life on Mars.

Though there are no live forms, yet there is a meteorite present on Earth which had come down some 13,000 years ago in the Antarctic which is raising a lot of questions. This contains a magnetic compound called magnetite or Fe3O4 and that compound is found easily on earth. It is also used in many products like video and audio tapes which are regularly used in most houses. At the same time, there are only very few bacteria on earth which can produce magnetite in the crystalline form as they are able to assemble magnetite structures which are chemically pure and free from any defects. This type of magnetite crystals were found in the Allan Hills meteorite and that is a 4 billion year old rock which had come down from Mars as described earlier. The crystals of magnetite were present deep inside the rock. There is a belief in the scientists that these crystals had traveled all the way from Mars and were not produced on Earth through contamination by bacteria from the Earth after its arrival. (Life on Mars? The Allan Hills meteorite from Mars is peppered with tiny magnetic crystals that on our planet are made only by bacteria)

The process of arrival of the meteorite is also interesting and it was thrown out of Mars more than fifteen million years ago when a huge comet or asteroid hit the surface of Mars. Then the piece of substance traveled in space for many million of years before finally landing on earth like other meteorites. The landing also had taken place some thirteen thousand years ago. It was untouched till 1984 till the piece was found by a team from NASA Johnson Space Center during one of their surveys in the Antarctic. There were also doubts initially about the origin of the meteorite which was thought to be from the moon and only in 1993 it was named as a Martian meteorite. There are very few of them, only twelve all around the world. They all have a unique chemical composition which is particular to Mars. (The Life on Mars meteorite) The important question to be considered here is that the evidence of life forms in Mars is indirect and thus open to a lot of dispute.

The type of life that is ascribed to Mars is at best forms of extinct life and even on earth they are found as microfossils and stromatolites. Thus it is not a wonder that they are found in the meteorite, and even if the forms of life as shown are still not enough of an argument for the proof of any existing life form there. Even on earth these forms are found in Western Australia where probably the oldest forms of life existed and they are seen from samples which are also 3.5 billion years old. It is also important to understand that microfossils are individual fossilized organisms and those are generally available in the form of algae. The sizes can be even a few millimeters in diameter. The formation of stromatolites starts when layers of microbial organisms in shallow lakes or pools are covered with what is known as the sediments. These organisms seemingly continue their movement towards light and the other material which is also of organic origin remain fixed creating a typical layered or domed structure. (Life on Mars: Malin Space Science Systems)

Thus even if the sample had come from Mars, it was still very preliminary form when compared to the development of life on earth then. Yet this sort of clear cut arguments did not stop the dreamers from dreaming about life on mars and the suggestion has come that there was an exchange of life between Earth and Mars, in both directions in the early years - some 3.9 billion years before. This should have taken place before the massive bombardment of the earth and Mars took place along with the Moon. The Moon is still considered to be heavily cratered due to the effects which result due to the bombing and also… [END OF PREVIEW]

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