Life on Earth?

Interesting, the news of the Phoenix discovery of water on Mars. I caught part of the More4 News report last night (following the piece on the impending lawsuit attempt to halt the upcoming CERN experiment, on the grounds that it may generate an apocalyptic black hole), when some expert was being interviewed, with the inevitable raising of the fascinating question of the likelihood of finding life. He (I didn’t get his name) said something to the effect that, if there is life, it would likely only(?) be bacterial-like.

Will they be green? said the interviewer.

Hmm. This is actually a potentially intelligent question, when we consider cyanobacteria/ blue-green algae. Pity this couldn’t have been fleshed out a bit, but I guess she was oblivious to this; or it was considered irrelevant and uninteresting.

Is it any wonder?

6 responses to “Life on Earth?

  1. I’d rather there only be bacteria than some advanced species who may one day think about colonising our planet (funny cause that’s what we’re trying to do to Mars)!
    The European space program plans to send a rover in 2013, it’s said that it will carry out deeper research than Phoenix, I look forward to what it can find.

  2. I am eagerly awaiting Jeff’s post/response to all of this. Where are you, Jeff??
    Thanks for the link, Matt. Have been talking about it all morning as a result. I really have no idea what’s going on. It’s almost like a PR person trying to build buzz or hype by announcing this White House consultation. Very odd, and not a little ominous.

  3. Little red men?
    Matt’s link is mighty intriguing. Wonder if the announcement will come with some po-religious addendum, such as the narrated epilogue that spoilt Spielberg’s otherwise enjoyable version of War of the Worlds.

  4. It’s true – most realistic thoughts about finding ET life are based on microbes. Multicellular and macroscopic organisms are certainly possible, but looking at the extremely harsh conditions of even the most likely sites for life, it seems a bit far-fetched to imagine that anything beyond a hardy microbe could make a living. Mars, for example: high radiation, oxidizing soil, aridity, and cold temperatures all conspire to make life on the surface pretty unlikely. But beneath the surface, geochemical gradients could provide energy sources, and as we’ve been finding on Earth, only microbes inhabit such places.
    Within this paradigm, cyanobacteria are the most likely surface-dependent organisms. In Mars analog sites like Antarctica, the Atacama Desert, and the Arctic, the radiation and extreme temperatures have forced organisms indoors. They’re known as cryptoendolithic organisms – they live inside rocks: deep enough to avoid the radiation, but shallow enough to photosynthesize.
    Re: Europe’s next Mars mission, perhaps more info would be available at this upcoming Second Nature talk I’ve heard about, though it’s unclear who this “Dr.” Jeff Marlow is…

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