Monday, March 28, 2011

We Might Have Martian Ancestry, So Say Space Forensics

This is a short funny video but the underlying message is important. There is microbial life in space and more importantly there is intelligent life in space. Virtually all that science has to offer is slowly reaching this unmistakable conclusion.

This is no different to watching stories on alien life in the universe or UFO documentaries on Discovery Channel or the History Channel, over the years they have reached a tipping point. For years the question was "are UFOs real". This question is no longer asked, the heart of the stories is how much life is in the universe and why are UFOs visiting earth.

Our search for life beyond Earth could take us down the road to a shocking look into the mirror -- a climax straight out of a Twilight Zone plot.

A team of researchers at MIT is proposing to apply forensic science testing on the Martian surface. Specifically, the task would be to do DNA and RNA sequencing on Martian microbes (if they exist) to see if they share a common genetic origin with us.

This addresses the novel question of panspermia -- that we are descended from Mars life that migrated to Earth. Such testing could also offer key insights into how serious a risk Martian microbes would present to human colonists.

The MIT team led by Christopher Carr and Maria Zuber (head of MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences) and Gary Ruvkun, a molecular biologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, are proposing to build an instrument to send to Mars and test for extraterrestrial genomes.

Despite the numerous landers and rovers we've sent already, the only surface biology experiments were carried out in a bold but premature effort in 1976 aboard the trailblazing NASA Viking landers. The confusing results from these tests remain controversial and ambiguous today.

Invaders From Space

Such a mini-forensics lab would test the hypothesis that life on Earth may have come from Mars. The Martians didn't arrive in spaceships, but microbes hitchhiking aboard meteorites blasted off Mars by ancient impacts. After millions of years in space, the meteorites would fall onto Earth and the microbes adapt to a new home.

Experiments done at Harvard University show that bacterial spores can survive riding alone on a simulated meteorite impact on Earth -- even without airbags. There is also data that microbes could also hibernate for the thousands of years in the vacuum of space before falling to Earth.
An estimated one billion tons of rock have already traveled from Mars to Earth. The controversy continues today as to whether we already have alien biological evidence for Martians aboard the Allan Hills Martian meteorite, ALH 84001.

But panspermia is not a two-way street because it is much harder to get enough asteroid impact energy to launch microbe-laden Earth rocks toward Mars (because Earth has a deeper gravitational well for the rocks to blast out of). What’s more, Mars probably became more suitable to the origin of life before the slower cooling, and more heavily bombarded, Earth did. There is compelling evidence for the existence of a great Martian ocean that once existed 3-4 billion years ago. As on Earth, life would be expected to have originated in such an ocean.

Source and to read the rest of the story;
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