Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Latest Claims Of Martian Life Are Erroneous Says USGS Scientist

On sufficiently high-resolution images a lighter ring is apparent between the dark core and the gray zone of the DDSs. Presumably, this is due to the re-frosting of the water vapor arising from the dark core. The process is facilitated by the cooling effect of the fast evaporation of water leaking out from below the ice. On the Figure 1A is a dune sheet inside a 50-km-wide crater located near 65S, 15W, Ls=201. Figure 1B1D are the individual spots with ring-structures. Caption by Horvath et al - Image by NASA/JPL/MSSS
Flagstaff - Sept. 26, 2001
by Timothy N. Titus, Ph.D
U.S.G.S. Astrogeology Team

Speculations about life on Mars have always caused great interest and controversy. Recently, several Internet articles have been posted describing the discovery of Martian Surface Organisms in the south polar region of Mars.

As a research scientist working on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) Team, I have spent the last four years analyzing data from this Martian region. The data reveal a region active with interesting and intriguing physical phenomena, but does not suggest the existence of life.

Hungarian scientists have reported evidence of life in the Martian southern polar region. They claim that the dark spots observed during the southern spring are living organisms, similar to those found at the south pole of Earth.

This comparison of the Martian southern polar cap to the Earth's Antarctica is highly inaccurate and misleading since the two regions have little in common.

Antarctica has an abundant supply of water ice at a mean winter surface temperature of between -40F (-40C) and -94F (-70C).

The Martian seasonal cap is almost entirely dry ice at a surface temperature of -195F (-126C). The near absence of water, even in the form of ice, and the frigid surface temperatures make the current existence of life unlikely.

Early in the MGS Mission, we discovered a region of Mars seasonal south polar cap that remains dark in the spring, while the rest of the polar cap is bright. [ Titus et al., 1998, Kieffer et al., 1999, Kieffer et al.,2000] This dark region remains cold enough for dry ice to continue to exist.

Dramatic changes of appearance of many ices can result from minor or no change in the basic material, similar to the disparity between the appearance of snow and "black ice" on Earth. Studies of thermal spectra from this Martian region suggest that the dark dry ice is either a clear transparent slab or dirty and coarse grained. The formation of these Martian dark ice regions is an annual event, occurring each Martian southern spring.

The dark spots at issue, occurring on crater floors inside the cryptic region, have been under study by several scientists at NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Malin Space Science Systems. All of our studies suggest these dark spots are formed from the natural defrosting process of the seasonal cap. The dark spots are either exposed soil or dark dry ice [e.g. Edgett et al., 2000, Bridges et al. 2001].

The Hungarian report is riddled with glaring scientific errors. The report claims according to the Hungarian researchers that during harsh Martian winters, when temperatures plummet to minus 200 degrees Celsius (minus 328 Fahrenheit), these so-called Mars Surface Organisms are protected by a thick blanket of ice which then melts as the planet's early summer temperatures climb to just above zero.

Firstly, the polar cap surface temperatures, even in the dead of winter, do not drop below -195F (-126C), which is the temperature at which dry ice and gaseous CO2 can co-exist under Martian pressures.

Secondly, the Martian southern polar cap consists of dry ice (solid CO2), not water ice. In the spring time, the dry ice does not melt, but sublimates, transitioning directly to gas. The temperature at which this occurs is -195F (-126C), not zero degrees, as suggested by the Hungarian article.

And thirdly, water ice does exist on Mars, but sublimates around -100F (-73C), due to the low atmospheric pressure of 6.1 mbars. Earth has a surface pressure of 1000 mbars.

Related Links
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Why Microbes Matter
Houston - Sept. 4, 2001
One of the most frequent questions that I have encountered when talking with people about astrobiology is, "If there are microorganisms on Mars, so what? Why should I be interested in the Martian equivalent of bacteria?" Here is my answer:

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.