Martian Geyser - Hypothetical Biological Origin

Hypothetical Biological Origin

A team of Hungarian scientists propose that the dark dune spots and channels may be colonies of photosynthetic Martian microorganisms, which over-winter beneath the ice cap, and as the sunlight returns to the pole during early spring, light penetrates the ice, the microorganisms photosynthesise and heat their immediate surroundings. A pocket of liquid water, which would normally evaporate instantly in the thin Martian atmosphere, is trapped around them by the overlying ice. As this ice layer thins, the microorganisms show through grey. When it has completely melted, they rapidly desiccate and turn black surrounded by a grey aureole. The Hungarian scientists think that even a complex sublimation process is insufficient to explain the formation and evolution of the dark dune spots in space and time. Since their discovery, fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke promoted these formations as deserving of study from an astrobiological perspective.

A multinational European team suggests that if liquid water is present in the spiders' channels during their annual defrost cycle, the structures might provide a niche where certain microscopic life forms could have retreated and adapted while sheltered from UV solar radiation. British and German teams also consider the possibility that organic matter, microbes, or even simple plants might co-exist with these inorganic formations, especially if the mechanism includes liquid water and a geothermal energy source. However, they also remark that the majority of geological structures may be accounted for without invoking any organic "life on Mars" hypothesis. (See also: Life on Mars.)

Read more about this topic:  Martian Geyser

Famous quotes containing the words origin and/or biological:

    There are certain books in the world which every searcher for truth must know: the Bible, the Critique of Pure Reason, the Origin of Species, and Karl Marx’s Capital.
    —W.E.B. (William Edward Burghardt)

    No poetic phantasy
    but a biological reality,
    a fact: I am an entity
    like bird, insect, plant
    or sea-plant cell;
    I live; I am alive.
    Hilda Doolittle (1886–1961)