Sunday, September 26, 2004

Cydonia Quest on Martian Biological Controversy

The "Abstract" Battle for Life on Mars

"There is therefore scope for there to be a symbiotic ecosystem of methanogenic and methanothrophic bacteria under the Martian surface. The methanogens produce the methane and formaldehyde that the methanothrops require. The methanothrops mop up the methane and formaldehyde that would otherwise poison the methanogens. The efficiency of such a system may be such that very little of the methane produced by the methanogens leaves the ground. There may therefore be much more than a few 'oases' of bacterial life on Mars as suggested by Krasnopolsky."

Bob Harrison (Cydonia Quest) offers a welcome summary of the recent political battle over the interpretation of methane and formaldehyde detected in Mars' atmosphere.

The chemical evidence, as Harrison points out, suggests "oases" of Martian life. If this is the case, then much of Mars may indeed be sterile, consistent with JPL's portrait of the planet. Perhaps anomalous formations such as Arthur C. Clarke's "banyan trees" and Greg Orme's "Martian spiders" are examples of such localized biological activity.