Searching for Martian life conditions on Earth... Dec 14, 2005 21:36:01 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 14, 2005 21:36:01 GMT -6
Microbes Under Greenland Ice Give Hints To Martian Life Potentials
Berkeley CA (SPX) Dec 15, 2005
A University of California, Berkeley, study of methane-producing bacteria frozen at the bottom of Greenland's two-mile thick ice sheet could help guide scientists searching for similar bacterial life on Mars.
Methane is a greenhouse gas present in the atmospheres of both Earth and Mars. If a class of ancient microbes called Archaea are the source of Mars' methane, as some scientists have proposed, then unmanned probes to the Martian surface should look for them at depths where the temperature is about 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than that found at the base of the Greenland ice sheet, according to UC Berkeley lead researcher P. Buford Price, a professor of physics.
This would be several hundred meters - some 1,000 feet - underground, where the temperature is slightly warmer than freezing and such microbes should average about one every cubic centimeter, or about 16 per cubic inch.
Biologists at Pennsylvania State University had earlier analyzed ice several meters above bedrock that was dark gray in appearance because of its high silt content, and identified dozens of types of both aerobic (oxygen-loving) and anaerobic (oxygen-phobic) microbes. They estimated that 80 percent of the microbes were still alive.
Though methane has been detected in Mars' atmosphere, ultraviolet light from the sun would have broken down the amount observed in about 300 years if some process was not replenishing the methane, Price noted. While interaction of carbon-bearing fluid with basaltic rock might be responsible, methanogens might instead take in subsurface hydrogen and carbon dioxide to make the methane, he said.
More here: www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-life-05zc.html
I do believe little critters abound under the surface of Mars currently.