A Scientific and Christian View of Life in Outer Space Our Solar System Part 1a

June 2010 Consistant Elevation Level of Past Deltas on Mars Indicating Ancient Ocean Level of Liquid Water

On space.com and the Telegraph newspaper from the United Kingdom and the BBC among other places there was an announcement of the latest findings of possible past significant water on Mars. This study concluded that in the ancient past 36% or just over a third of the surface of Mars was covered with a significant layer of water including a vast northern ocean over much of Mars' northern hemishpere which still has much of the lower elevation regions on the planet. This conclusion was reached by using the data from Mars orbiters to determine that about 52 past river deltas lay at the same level and probably mostly flowed into the ancient northern ocean of Mars. In these reports it is mentioned that this water persisted until about 3.5 billion years while they would say that the age of Mars might be about 4.5 billion years. However young earth creationists including myself would say these ages are much more recent with perhaps just over 5 thousand years for the end of this water on Mars perhaps coinciding with God's curse on earth in His judgement of the flood of Noah and an age of 6 to 7 thousand years for the creation of Mars and the universe including earth. In this ancient time Mars would also have had a much more substantial atmosphere including significant rain. It has been determined in this article that there could also have been past life on Mars at this time and that these delta regions should be a priority for future landers or rovers from NASA or other space agencies to look for life especially when the spacecraft have the capability to look for biological material like an updated version of the past American Viking landers. There are apparently still some people that think all these landforms that look like they were carved by liquid water were actually formed by volcanic activity on Mars but these latest discoveries that give further support for an ancient ocean of liquid water on ancient Mars should help dispel the volcanic theory further. As a biblical Christian as I said elsewhere in this article I think there could be some extraterrestrial life like a counterpart to our bacteria or even our plants and animals but I don't believe there is extraterrestrial intelligent life (other than God, departed believers and angels of course) as I think God would mention this phenomena more in his word if it was true and perhaps more evidence would have been gathered by the Seti projects like their radio telescopes.

Qualification of Recent Gullies on Mars March 2009

In early March 2009 it was announced that after some study it has been concluded that the gullies on Mars are about one million years old (on an evolutionary time scale although I am sure from a creationist perspective there is support for an age at most thousands of years old). This conclusion is based on the lack of craters on top of these gullies that indicates they are fairly recent on an evolutionary and probably creationist time scale. It has been concluded that these gullies were not formed by rock slides or other means but were formed by liquid water but that unfortunately it has been concluded these have not happened in the immediate past (the last couple years of decades etc.).

June 2008 On Site Confirmation of Water (Ice) on Mars from Phoenix Lander

Although at this time it still has to be confirmed by putting it in one of the ovens in the Phoenix Lander and seeing at what temperature in vaporizes, it has already been largely confirmed that there is water ice just under the surface in at least some of the polar areas of Mars. The landing site of the Phoenix lander was chosen because, as seen from orbit, there were definite indications that there should be ice just under the surface in this location (probably within a couple inches or several centimeters of the surface. It as of November 2008 was later confirmed by putting this sample in the oven that the sample included water ice. As it has looked since the Phoenix lander landed there has been some white areas revealed that could probably be ice that were probably uncovered by the thruster rockets that slowed the descent of the lander before it reached the surface. These rockets probably blew away the top couple inches or several centimeters of soil that is probably dust blown there by Martian winds from other parts of the planet. What is more important that the scoop on the arm of the Phoenix lander dug a small trench that also uncovered some white material. The scientists on the Mars Phoenix lander team waited about 4 days to see what would happen to this white material and as can be seen from comparative pictures before and after these four days the original white material disappeared after the 4 days had elapsed. It was thought at first the white material could be a type of Martian salt or even solid carbon dioxide or dry ice. However the salt wouldn't disappear (sublimate) into gas as this material had done and the temperatures at this site would be too warm for carbon dioxide to be frozen (at least at this season in the Martian year.) The only other material that would be common on that part of Mars that would form at those temperatures and pressures and that would disappear (sublimate) under the given material is water ice so the fact it did disappear in 4 days as well as the fact that this was an area that should have water ice as determined from orbit results in the conclusion that this white material is indeed water ice. The orbiters can detect the presence of ice from orbit but can't determine the form in which it occurs such as clumps or layers etc. Next the scientists hope to put some of the other ice that has been shown to be common around the lander into one or more of the onboard ovens and heat up the material to see if it does indeed vaporize at the temperature for water but also to see what other material might be in the ice including organic chemicals which this lander is also built to detect. If organic chemicals are found this could give more support for the hope that in the past and perhaps even at the present there is at least microbial life on Mars as there are some kinds of bacteria on earth that can survive in water ice I think especially if there are organic chemical in that ice. Even if it is just fossil bacteria that is found on Mars, as long as it can be demonstrated it hasn't been from contamination from Earth, such as from previous landers, it would still be a groundbreaking discovery and would mean that life occurs on more than one place in the universe and probably many places including perhaps more advanced life on more earthlike extrasolar planets or planets of other stars. As a Bible believing Christian I wouldn't find this a problem as I believe God could have created the universe this way if he chose and I don't think there is any contradiction with the Bible although I would have a problem if any human like life is found on any other planet. I think this is next to impossible on Mars as we have studies it in detail for a couple decades and found do clear evidence of people or their building or presence although I am aware there are people that point to the face on Mars and supposed pyramids in some regions of Mars. If no evidence of even bacteria life in this location on Mars is found it could mean that this was just a bad sample or that there isn't any even bacteria life on Mars. I don't believe there is any humanoid or intelligent life on Mars as a Christian since I think God would have mentioned this at least in the Bible so we could pray for them for their salvation or God's help for them or perhaps eventually if we achieved a better technological level to visit them or even with current technology to communicate with them via light, radio waves or other electromagnetic radiation. I also think having another humanoid race would provide a problem or whether the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God would have to go to those planets to die for any sins they committed or whether Jesus's death on Earth would count for their sins but that they couldn't receive him if they haven't heard about him.

Other Discoveries of Phoenix Lander in 2008

Other discoveries of the Phoenix Lander which has now been declared dead due to end of communications due to the approaching northern winter and declining sunlight include the following. Carbonates and clay were discovered which both need liquid water to form and therefore are clear indicators of the past presence of liquid water. Also discovered by the Phoenix lander was the mineral perchlorate which could have provided energy to any bacteria or other material that might have existed in past water at this location in ancient Mars. The soil was also found to be mildly alkaline or basic which would support some life including plants that grow on earth. This is in contrast to somewhat acidic soil at the locations of the two Nasa rovers Spirit and Opportunity near the Martian equator. Unfortunately with the end of the Phoenix lander there is no more possibility of finding organic material or signs of at least past bacteria until an appropriate future mission lands and starts operation.

January 2011 Reevaluation of 1976 Viking Lander Results Due to Recent Phoenix Lander Results

One of the main molecules found in the soil by the Phoenix Lander in 2008 in the area around the lander was perchlorate. There was some talk about what that would mean for the prospects of finding life at the time but lately a more interesting and intriguing possibility has been raised. This is that there could be perchlorates widely distributed on the surface of Mars including at the sites of the Viking landers. The chemistry of these perchlorates is such that at usual temperatures on Mars and possibly even up to room temperature on earth perchlorates don't destroy organic compounds including those of any microbes in a location. However when soil is heated to oven temperatures of a couple hundred degrees as was done on the Viking landers the perchlorates would destroy any organic compounds including microbes. The resultant compounds would be chloromethane and chloroethane as was seen by the Viking landers. This was initially explained as contamination by chlorine based cleaning fluids from earth. However since this theory was proposed some scientists have done an experiment with soil from the Atacama desert in Chile. This soil was put in an apparatus very similiar to the oven on the Viking landers after perchlorate was added or mixed in with the soil. Then this perchlorate soil mixture was heated to similiar temperatures as on the Viking landers on Mars. Guess what happened? No organic compounds were detected or microbes but plenty of chloromethane and chloroethane just as in the Viking results on Mars. This is even though the soil from the Atacama desert on Earth would surely contain some organic compounds and microbes given their pervasive nature on earth even in dry deserts. This has led substantial number of scientists and others interested in astronomy and space exploration to believe that the Viking landers had detected organic compounds or even life in the late 1970s on Mars after all but that the results were misinterpreted. A note of caution is that organic chemicals can be produced from nonbiological as well as biological (life) basis so even if these results on Mars as organic are confirmed it still doesn't prove there is even microbial life but it would make it much more likely than if organic chemicals weren't detected. Organic chemcials have been detected on some comets or other places in our solar system that are likely too cold or have too much radiation or other problems for life. Now fortunately there is a chance to follow up on this theory. The Mars Science Laboratory sometimes called Curiousity is scheduled to be launched near the end of 2011 and land around August 2012 on Mars. It has the capability to also detect organic compounds and can heat soil as on Viking which would probably produce similiar results as Viking if there were perchlorates around the Mars Science Laboratory landing site but it also has the capability to examine soil without heating it. If the above theory is correct this should result in the detection of organic chemicals if they are widespread on Mars although it would be difficult to prove from this probe whether they are biological or not. One reason the organic chemicals are likely to be widely distributed on Mars are its frequent dust storms including global ones every couple years. From a Christian viewpoint I think the finding of organic chemicals or even microbes on Mars can be explained in a way consistant with the Bible as indicating the wonder of God's creation and design and wisdom. I think this is just as good an explanation as the non-Christian belief in evolution. I don't see any theological problems for the occurence of organic or even biological material beyond earth unless it is humanoid or other intelligent life other than God, angels and demons mentioned in the Bible. If microbes were detected on Mars however and they were based on DNA like practically all earth life I would be very suspicious these microbes were contamination from earth but if they were based on some other molecule then I would say definitely they are native Martian life.

March 2009 Probable Discovery of Liquid Water on Phoenix Mars Lander

IN the end of March 2009 after more careful examination of some of the pictures from the Phoenix Mars Lander after it ceased operations an astounding discovery was made. There were what appreared to be small but clearly visible in photographs drops of some liquids. It was clear that this material was a liquid as it ran down the leg of the lander and coalesced into bigger drops as would be expected for a liquid. Although most scientists viewed the existence of liquid water on Mars as an impossibility because of its cold temperature and low atmospheric pressure it does seem that liquid water is the best explanation for the observations on the Phoenix Mars lander. It is definitely known that there is water in that location as the lander uncovered a clear layer of water ice and put some of it in its sampling oven which confirmed the molecule was water ice. However one other compound found in abundance at this location was perchlorates and perhaps some other salts. These salts in water cause the water to freeze at about -60 degrees Celcius just like normal salt that we put on sidewalks on snow or ice in the winter in Canada causes the snow or ice to melt because it lowers the freezing point of the resultant water. This temperature of about -60 degrees Celcius is below the normal daytime temperature at this polar region of Mars at least in the fall and certainly in the Martian summer so temperaturewise this material on the leg of the Phoenix Mars lander but there is still some controversy about these claims especially because the low surface pressure of the atmosphere would make the existence of liquid water on Mars quite unlikely but scientists are trying to understand this physics and the phenomena on the Phoenix lander to better determine if liquid water could form on Mars and whether that is what was observed on the leg of the Phoenix Mars lander. There will probably be more discussion and a better understanding on this issue in the near future. If this is confirmed this would make the search for extraterrestrial life more promising as there are bacteria on earth that could exist in these conditions although it might be too salty for some other microbes.

Discovery in December 2008 of the Mineral Carbonate on Mars

In some isolated locations on Mars, especially the Nili Fossae region near the Isidis depression, there has been a discovery of significant amounts of carbonate on Mars from the Nasa Mars Reconaissance Orbiter. The significance of this find is that with the abundant carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere and due to other factors there should be abundant instances of carbonate on Mars but up to now none was discovered. This is thought to be in articles from space.com and the bbc that the predominant acidic watery environment that occured at one phase of Mars' history over much of the planet would dissolve the carbonate and so make it more difficult to find. The occurence of the carbonate in this location in Nili Fossae and some other locations on Mars indicates some areas of Mars escaped this acidic watery covering which would be harmful to life even microbes or the equivalent. If Mars ever had even bacteria or the equivalent it would only continue or even its fossil form would remain only if it hadn't come into contact with this acidic water that covered much of Mars as bacteria on earth and probably any Martian equivalent would be damaged or destroyed by this acidic water. Therefore this region in the Nili Fossae valley would be a good location to look for past or present at least bacteria life on Mars as has been pointed out on other sources. This should help Nasa or the space agencies of other countries have a specific target area to have a better chance of detecting at least bacteria life on Mars in the near future.

Tentative First Discovery of Caves on Mars in March 2007

Although it has long been the subject of science fiction, especially related to Mars, and possible life or civilizations there the discovery announced on March 17, 2007 of 7 caves that were discovered on Mars by the American Mars Odyssey spacecraft is the first actual scientific evidence for caves on Mars. These caves were all found on the Arsia Mons volcano which is part of the Tharsis Montes complex that is located between Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris. There is a drop of between 80 metres and 130 metres from the mouths of these caves to their floors. The entrances to the caves are between 100 metres and 252 metres across. The floors of the caves continue probably to 73 metres to 96 metres below the surface of this part of Mars although one of these caves has a floor that extends 130 metres below the surface of this part of Mars. The significance of the discovery of these caves on Mars and the hope of finding further ones now is that the surface of Mars is still quite hostile to life, either human, animal, plant or bacteria or the equivalents because of the radiation from the sun and our galaxy and beyond that is almost unhampered by any feature on Mars. On Earth we are protected especially by the thick atmosphere of Earth and our substantial global magnetic field. Mars has no global magnetic field and an atmosphere with only about 1/1000 the surface pressure of Earth's. These caves could provide a good initial refuge for possible human astronauts on Mars. These caves could have practical value as a possible refuge for bacterial life especially if there is any source of liquid water inside these caves. Therefore these caves would also be an excellent choice to start looking for possible Martian microbial life although of course lighting would have to be provided.

Possible Evidence of Recent or Current Microscopic Extraterrestrial Life on Mars

Recently evidence of possible extraterrestrial microscopic life has been found by orbiting unmanned space probes around Mars through the discovery of clear evidence of appreciable Methane or natural gas CH4 and Ammonia NH3. Each of these molecules are primarily composed of Hydrogen a very reactive chemical element. This means in a relatively short time, hundreds of years, they should all react with the Oxygen in the Carbon Dioxide CO2 that is very plentiful in the Martian atmosphere if they are not being replenished. This means there must be some ongoing source for their continued existence in Mars' atmosphere. According to scientists the two most likely sources are geothermal activity such as volcanoes or bacteria life including that which could be beneath the surface. So far despite several orbiters viewing previously and currently the entire surface of Mars there has been no evidence found of active or recent volcanoes or other geothermal activity. This leaves bacteria as the most likely source of these gases in the Martian atmosphere, if they are confirmed, which would be a strong factor in favour of present bacteria life on Mars. Also although the biological chemical analyzing experiments aboard the Viking landers couldn't find any conclusive evidence of bacteria or similiar life on Mars they also had some readings or results that couldn't be dismissed as being caused by extraterrestrial microscopic life either so further examination is needed in this area as well. The failed Mars lander Beagle 2 was equiped to do such testing but unfortunately mission control people lost contact with it before it reached the surface. The present NASA Spirit and Opportunity rovers are only equipped to detect water I think hydrogen but not also carbon related chemicals. On November 5, 2005 I read an article from www.usc.edu, the University of Southern California website, a scientist named Joseph Miller who works in their Keck School has found evidence from some experiments in arid or very dry areas of earth that in one of them in the American state of Utah a source of methane was traced to methanogens or methane breathing out bacteria in the desert soil there. This professor Miller also noted methane has been detected on Mars and that it would be worthwhile to send another rover to look for Methanogens on Mars. The current rovers are not equipped to detect carbon compounds like methane although the earlier Viking ones were and some of the ambiguous signals for life in the Viking experiments could have been produced by methanogens. Finally in 1996 a meteorite was found on the ice in Antarctica that was determined, based on its isotopes or versions of its atoms with numbers of neutrons, to have come from Mars. What is interesting about this meteorite is that it has miniature features that look like they are small bacteria. Although some of the former points used as possible evidence in support of this rock showing Martian bacteria extraterrestrial life have been discounted, one of the points previously against this rock showing authentic extraterrestrial life, that this proposed bacteria was too small to be once alive, has been discounted. This is because simiarly small bacteria called nanobacteria have been found alive on Earth since the discovery of this Martian meteorite in 1996. One could still argue in favour of this rock having authentic Martian extraterrestrial life although it is still debatable.

October 2010 Detection of Seasonal Patterns in Methane Emissions on Mars

At most of the sites where methane emissions have been detected, it has now been determined that there is a two year cycle in these emissions or about one Mars year. These emissions have been found to be strongest in the Martian summer and weakest in its winter with growing emissions in the Martian spring and declining emissions in its autumn. Although there is some possibility this could still be consistant with an inorganic explanation, this certainly in my opinion and in the opinion of some Mars researchers or commentators adds to the possibility that these Martian methane emissions are caused by some sort of methane expiring microbe probably under the surface. It would a profitable project in determining what is causing these emissions if Nasa or some other space agency would send a lander or even rover with the ability to detect organic or even living material to one of these sites and stay there for at least one martian year and attempt to observe these emissions on site and perhaps dig into the soil to try to find the sources of these methane emissions. Although it is still too early to definitely say these emissions are caused by living organisms these latest observations continue to point in that direction. This would be a very significant discovery if it was confirmed especially if these microbes were found and determined to be based on something other than DNA and so be less likely to be contamination from earth and more likely to be indigenous Martian life. Again as a bible believing Christian I would have no problem with the discovery of organisms on Mars as I believe that this would be just part of the wisdom, wonder and power of God in creation but it is more intelligent extraterrestrial life other than God himself, angels or demons or deceased humans that I would have more trouble with theologically.

January 2009 Further Evidence of Emission of Methane Into Mars' Atmosphere as Possible Evidence of Microbial Life

On January 15, 2009 it was announced that from a variety of sources including Europe's Mars Express orbiter around Mars and some large ground telescopes on Earth that emissions of considerable quantities of methane gas have been observed on Mars. These sources of methane CH4 also known as natural gas have been mostly from three areas on Mars: Nili Fossae, Arabia Terra and Syrtis Major. Nili Fossae was also recently in the news as is also mentioned above on this web page as the location where the mineral carbonate was found which is only produced in the presence of liquid water which is also an indication of at least past conditions supportive of life. The amount of the production of methane at these sites on Mars is quite considerable and is comparable to that produced in a place releasing methane near Santa Barbara, California called the Coal Pit Point. Methane on Mars is not stable in its atmosphere and would be oxidized quite quickly to form carbon dioxide and probably water and there is not much methane in Mars's atmosphere at all on a long term basis for this reason. Methane on Mars or in its atmosphere is only likely to come from one of two sources. This is either inorganically from volcanoes or organically from microbes that emit methane. There are microbes on earth like this that get their energy from chemical reactions with hydrogen rather than sunlight and these could exist on Mars and feed off the water ice or any of this ice that might melt below the surface but even if such microbes are confirmed on Mars it is doubtful that they would resemble similiar microbes called methanogens on earth if these microbes on Mars are native to Mars. If these methane expiring or other microbes are found on Mars, I as a Bible believing and creationist Christian would still not have a problem with this. I would believe that this is what God created and would show even more his wisdom and knowledge and power. I also don't think there is a problem with this in the Bible since such microbes if they exist would obviously have no spirit and would need no prayer or saviour as some hypothetical humanoid or spirt possessing extraterrestrial life would. The latter is what I believe if found would present more theological problems for Bible believing Christians. But even on scientific grounds such as the lack of convincing evidence from all the Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) searches I think it is not likely that there is humanoid or spirit possessing extraterrestrial life (except of course for angels and demons that are clearly said to be the heavenly host in the Bible.)

February and March 2008 Discoveries That Appear to Dash Some Optimistic Interpretations of Evidence for Present and Past Life on Mars

December 2009 Elimination of Some Primary Sources on Inorganic Processes Thought to Produce Methane in Mars' Atmosphere

On December 8, 2009 there was an article on the Physorg.com web site titled Life on Mars theor boosted by new methane study. In this article the authors commented that any methane in the atmosphere of Mars couldn't last long because it would be broken up by the solar wind streaming into Mars' atmosphere without the protection from a substantial magnetic field as Earth has. Some leading theories for the nonbiological production of this methane have been volcanoes and perhaps more recently meteors from outer space. However this article concluded that neither of these sources could come close to producing the amount of methane observed in the atmosphere of Mars. There seem to be two remaining candidates for what produces the methane in the atomosphere of Mars. One is that previously produced volcanic material, of which there is some on Mars, reacts with water to produce the methane. The other possibility is the most interesting and exciting for many people including myself which is that the methane is produced by microbes in the soil of Mars or perhaps under the surface. If there were microbes on Mars it would be very interested to determine their nature such as if they are based on DNA as practically all Earth life or on some other organic chemistry. If any possible Mars life is based on DNA it could unfortunately be contamination from Earth even though scientists have been very careful to try to prevent this with all the probes sent to Mars especially landers or rovers. However if these microbes are not based on DNA it is prettly certain they would be distinct Martian life and could give us profound insight into the possibilities of extraterrestrial life in other solar systems and remove some of the terrestrial bias we might still have for the possibility of extraterrestrial life. I am not sure what scientific effort there currently is to try to confirm or eliminate the possibility of the Martian methane being produced my reactions with volcanic rock and water or on the other hand that life is indeed responsible for the production of the methane but the public interest in this subject should put much pressure on the scientific community to get the bottom of this matter. As a Bible believing Christian I say again I personally don't have a problem with some extraterrestrial life certainly with microbes or even something like plants or animals but where I do have a problem is with intelligent humanoid life. With humanoid life there is also the spiritual dimension and whether such a race even sinned against the true God the God of the Bible and the God of heaven and earth and if so whether God would have sent a saviour for them or somehow gave them word about Jesus dying for sins here on earth. This to me sounds like God wouldn't allow this to happen and there is also the matter about why God hasn't been more explicit in the Bible about mentioning such hypothetical people and asking us to at least pray for them.

The main line of evidence that suggested there could still be at least bacteria life on Mars was the discovery of the creation of gullies down the sides of some craters on Mars that were created in the last couple years. It is quite certain these gullies were created in the last couple years because they were present in the most recent close up pictures of Mars from orbitting spacecraft but not present in pictures taken from Mars orbiters several years ago. As I mention earlier on this web page they have been with some justification been interpreted as evidence of the recent flow of liquid water but now after closer examination of the evidence it has been decided as recently reported on www.space.com that these gullies were created not at all by water but just by a land slide of completely dry material from the upper parts of the crater rims. As far as I know this conclusion is has been quite carefully considered before being announced and might be very difficult to overcome as most date and options have already been taken into account. Unfortunately this leaves a much less appealing and romantic current picture of Mars but one we might have to accept unless we find any other features that can be explained more conclusively by liquid water or living organisms such as bacteria.

Another matter for which there has been gathering evidence that points to a less hospitable condition for life on Mars in this case in the ancient past when it is known beyond any doubt that there was substantial bodies and flows of liquid water on much of Mars is the following. It has now been determined that Mars in the evolutionary time scale up to 3.8 billion years ago although I am sure with access to the date there could be as credible explanation that it was only several thousand years ago that Mars was much too acidic in the liquid water that then was there for even bacteria or microbial life to exist or survive. This is argued on the basis of the fairly widespread presence of the mineral Jarosite which is comprised chiefly of iron sulfate which apparently can only be created or maintained in water that is very acidic - too acidic to even support microbial life. Although there are still other parts of Mars that haven't been explored as much or for which the past water might still be proved to be less acidic than some of these areas investigated by the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, the indication that two widely separated areas on Mars have remains of Mars' watery past that was too acidic for even microbial life should encourage a further shift to extrasolar planets as places for which not just microbial life in the past or present but even large scale life like plants and animals might not only be possible but a reality now as well as in the remote past and that would provide habitable environments for humans or earthlings to travel to and make settlements on eventually. In a biblical Christian view which holds that the time is short at most several years but perhaps much shorter before the Lord at least takes his church to heaven then seven more years for the tribulation, the most likely time for any manned mission to extrasolar planets on which life might be found or which have a tolerable temperature, liquid water and a life-supporting atmosphere would be in the 1000 year Messianic Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although it is even more likely there will be habitable planets in the eternal age these will be part of the new heavens and not the existing heavens and we likely will then reach them only with our heavenly bodies while in the Messianic Kingdom technology could be developed, perfected and used to reach them by nuclear rocket or other perhaps yet unforseen or still fictional technology.

July 2008 Discovery by NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for an Ancient Wetter Mars

On July 16, 2008 it was announced that the discovery of the widespread presence of the mineral phyllosilicates on Mars indicates that from 4.6 to 3.8 billion years on an evolutionary timescale or perhaps to just after the curse on mankind about 6000 years ago on a biblical timescale most areas of Mars were drenched with liquid water. These rocks were turned to clays and similiar materials by the persistant and pervasive liquid water at that time. These clays had abundant Iron, Magnesium, Aluminum, Mica and Kaolinate. The water had actually become part of the crystal structure of the rocks from that time which also suggests the persistant flow and abundant availability of liquid water. At first it was thought there were only a couple places on Mars where rocks consisting of these Phyllosilicates occurred but on closer examination they have been found to be much more common almost everywhere on Mars. The conditions that gave rise to these Phyllosilicate rocks especially their widespread distribution on Mars indicates that at least at that time Mars was very hospitable to life. More recent rocks however have been altered to contain sulfates which would form where there is significantly less water and under which conditions life would be much more difficult if not impossible because of the acidity of any water containing these sulfates. These are the type of rocks found in the northern equatorial part of Mars by the NASA Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Scientists are now trying to determine what areas of Mars would have a greater abundance of these Phyllosilicate rocks especially near the surface for future rover missions such as the NASA Mars Sciene Laboratory due to launch in 2009.

August 2010 Earth Microbes Last About 1 1/2 Years in Space

In August 2010 it was announced in an article on the BBC titled Beer microbes live 553 days outside ISS that some microbes brought to the outside of the International Space Station survived the full about 1 1/2 years in that place. These bacteria were brought back to earth and found to be still living and healthy. They are a variety of cyano-bacteria that is dependent on cyanogen compounds. They were brought up to the International Space Station within some rocks brought from a seaside cliff on the south of England. They were put on this rock on the outside of the space station and left there for 1 1/2 years. This would subject them to much radiation and extremes of temperature and cause any water to be boiled away that was in the rocks. These bacteria sometimes called OU-20 for the Open University in Britain that was conducting the experiments also thrive in extreme locations on earth such as deserts and Antartica. This will lend support to the idea that earth microbes could survive the trip from Earth to Mars or the Moon or Venus or similiar places when large meteors or asteroids hit the earth and cause some of the debris to escape from Earth. This should also reinforce the need to be careful with even any unmanned spacecraft that are sent to Mars and especially any manned mission when we can see the hardiness of some Earth microbes. If similiar microbes are found on Mars they should be suspect as coming from Earth if they have similiar DNA as Earth bacteria as it is unlikely God would create any independent life on another world with the same DNA basis as life on Earth.

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