Is there microbial life in Mars - Research Paper Example

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Is there microbial life in Mars? Scientists and space explorers have always taken a very keen interest in Mars or the “Red Planet”. The concept of exploration of signs of life on Mars is not new or recent…
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Download file to see previous pages Most recently, scientists have come up with new and improved evidence to support their claims of life on Mars. The experiments, discoveries and propositions put forward by the scientists over the period of time regarding life on Mars are discussed further in the paper. The signs of microbial life first came into picture when the experiments of the Labeled Release (LR) apparatus turned out to be positive. This experiment tested on a sample of Martian soil by mixing it with a drop of water constituting of nutrients and radioactive carbon atoms. If the soil was positive for microbial life, the nutrients in the soil would be metabolized and radioactive gases such as methane or carbon dioxide would be produced. Control samples were also prepared by heating or isolating the samples that would kill any form of life if it existed. Control samples were also mixed with nutrient solutions; hence the control experiments provided a comparison. To the amusement and the excitement of the scientists, the LR experiment turned out positive for life. “The minute the nutrients were mixed with the soil sample, you got something like 10,000 counts of radioactive molecules- a huge spike from the 50 or 60 counts that constituted the natural background radiation on Mars” (Than). These were the earliest experiments performed by the NASA scientists in pursuit of their discovery for life on Mars. Although the LR experiments turned out positive but other space probes’ experiments were negative, making the existence of microbial life on Mars skeptical. Recently, the gas emissions on Mars have been linked to biological source. The experts believe that the chances for organisms to be a source of the gasses are quite explanatory and supportive of microbial life on Mars. The methane gas produced on the Red Planet is suspected to be produced by certain microbiological organisms. On the other hand, some scientists believe that methane can be a result of geological reasons i.e. volcanic processes. However, no active volcanoes have been discovered up till now on Mars. This evidence and explanation strengthens the probability of microbial life on Earth. Scientists have explained that methanogens, certain organisms, release methane as a waste product which dwells in the water beneath the underground ice. According to Prof Pillinger, “The most obvious source of methane is organisms. So if you find methane in an atmosphere, you can suspect there is life” (Staff Reporters). Miller and mathematician Giorgio Bianciardi, employed a cluster analysis technique on the Viking’s data. This technique groups together similar looking data. This analysis was performed to evaluate the realism of the experiments and investigate the outcome of the experiments. The technique turned out with two clusters; one with two active experiments and the other with five control experiments. The biological experiments from Earth sorted with the active experiments from Viking exhibiting the validity of claims of microbial life on Mars. Another finding which supports the previous LR experiments is the Martian Rhythms. Circadian rhythms are internal clocks which can be found in every living thing, including microbes. On Earth the clock is set to 24 hour while on Mars it should be 24.7 hours, which is the duration of a Martian day. Miller noticed that the radioactive gas measurement sin the LR experiments exhibited a rhythmic rise during the day and decline during the night. The oscillations were in accordance with the Martian ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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