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What happens if microscopic life is found on Mars?


rdave13
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An interesting News column about it. Link.

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bjh

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If microscopic life is found on Mars, it doesn't actually affect the odds of there being life any where else in the Universe one tiny bit. There either is, or there isn't.

It may affect our interpretation of whether there is or isn't.

It's actually quite an important point, one that causes great confusion even amongst statisticians. The two events are not causally linked.... unless, of course, Martian life is the origin of all other life in the Universe.

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Forum Editor

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bjh

If traces of life were found it would certainly increase the likelihood that it has also developed elsewhere in the universe.

Mars once had large seas that were hundreds of metres deep, so it seems highly possible that life of some kind may have developed, even if it was microscopic in size. The problem is the lack of an atmosphere, and the large temperature fluctuations at the surface. Evolution works best if there is climactic stability over reasonably long periods.

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Quickbeam

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So if they actually find fossils of a few inches in size in the rocks, that really would be a seismic discovery.

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Aitchbee

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...microbe A to microbe B...over garden fence.

They just land over here and they think they own the place.

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bjh

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Forum Editor Quote: "If traces of life were found it would certainly increase the likelihood that it has also developed elsewhere in the universe."

No, simply not true. The chance of life existing elsewhere in the universe is completely unaffected by what we discover, or fail to discover, on Mars. The two events are completely unlinked, and many posters here are confusing the two.

Imagine if the probe were either to i) land and find life, or ii) explode just before landing (and then finding life). Would you imagine that the exploding spacecraft would reduce the chances of there being life elsewhere in the Universe? That that explosion would cause life to vanish in some faraway part of the Universe? Of course not, it's absurd. The discovery of life on Mars, or the discovery there is no life on Mars has absolutely no effect on whether there is life in other parts of the Universe.

It may well increase our understanding and evaluating the chance of life, but increasing the likelihood that life has also developed elsewhere??? Nah, no chance, no way.

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Forum Editor

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Quickbeam

So if they actually find fossils of a few inches in size in the rocks, that really would be a seismic discovery.

It would rank amongst the most important discoveries mankind has ever made.

The more likely scenario is that scientists will discover conclusive evidence of the existence of microbes.That alone would probably justify the mission.

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Aitchbee

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If we ever do find 'traces' of life on Mars it will be very difficult to safely (without contamination) tranport the Martian 'critters' the long journey back home to Earth.

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morddwyd

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"That's classic student bar stuff, circa 1975"

I've never been in one in my life.

You may not think much of my intellect, but there's no need to be so damned patronising or condescending about it.

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Aitchbee

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Funnily enough I used to frequent a pub called The Mars Bar in central Glasgow...late 70's...with my big mate Brian...honest!

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woodchip

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They used to think Moon was made out of Green Cheese also

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