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(The Indian Express)   NASA: micro-organisms from Earth could hitch a ride on a spacecraft and colonize the surface of Mars and trick scientists into thinking they are aliens   (indianexpress.com ) divider line
    More: Weird, microorganisms, NASA, bacteria, Earth, spacecrafts, scientists, real space, life forms  
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802 clicks; posted to Geek » on 04 May 2014 at 11:03 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-05-04 08:44:11 AM  
Breaking news from 1950, young upstart Carl Sagan theorizes life on earth could have started from alien astronaut poop bacteria, eventually evolve to form NASA.
 
2014-05-04 09:10:13 AM  
Ummm... wouldn't our current (which is improving pretty much day by day) understanding of genomics pretty much immediately allow us to determine whether or not any life "discovered" on Mars or elsewhere we've sent probes was originally from Earth? Just as we can compare genomes of organisms here on Earth to estimate reasonably well how long ago they shared a common ancestor using molecular clock techniques, we could apply the same analysis to any life we find out there. There are only a few scenarios I could imagine:

1.) It is not so genetically distant, though there is a chance it may appear somewhat older (on the order of what maybe a few thousand or even million years) due to increased mutation rates due to the harsh conditions. Still, in this case, it would be pretty obvious that any organism we find is due to contamination.

2.) It is very genetically distant while using similar biochemistry and the same genetic code to life on Earth. Depending on what kind of timescale we are talking about based on "molecular clock" techniques, it could indicate contamination a VERY long time ago due to ejecta from huge impacts (like the one that probably took out most of the dinosaurs) making its way to Mars with said organisms, just as Martian meteorites have been found on Earth.

3.) It is very genetically distant (on the order of greater than or nearly equal to 4 billion years), which would indicate support for the panspermia hypothesis, as we would have life on two different planets showing the same origin while also showing the genetic differences we'd expect from ~4 billion years of isolation. This would effectively disprove an Earth-based abiogenesis event, while neither supporting nor refuting such an event before the formation of the planets of our solar system and then said life being "seeded" here.

4.) It is completely genetically different, using an entirely different genetic code (and perhaps even translation apparatus) but still with similar enough biochemistry, indicating separate origins for life, but that organic chemistry is a good basis from which life could originate, and so life using similar chemistry to ours might be more common and form more readily than perhaps is currently considered.

5.) It uses completely different biochemistry and perhaps a very different mechanism for heredity, but still classifiable as life by such measures as compartmentalization from the environment, some kind of energy conversion we could classify as metabolism, and reproduction with heredity. In which case, it would also indicate independent origins and expand the possibilities of what we might consider life.

Anyway, the point is, even given current knowledge, not to mention knowledge we'll have in the future as our understanding of comparative genomics matures, it seems pretty trivial to classify whether or not any life we find out there is due to contamination (recent or ancient), a common interstellar origin (panspermia), or independent origins (which would add weight to abiogenesis happening here on Earth to start all life as we know it here).

At least, that is my impression.
 
2014-05-04 10:33:47 AM  
Thank you, come colonize us again!
 
2014-05-04 11:19:02 AM  

mamoru: Ummm... wouldn't our current (which is improving pretty much day by day) understanding of genomics pretty much immediately allow us to determine whether or not any life "discovered" on Mars or elsewhere we've sent probes was originally from Earth? Just as we can compare genomes of organisms here on Earth to estimate reasonably well how long ago they shared a common ancestor using molecular clock techniques, we could apply the same analysis to any life we find out there. There are only a few scenarios I could imagine:

1.) It is not so genetically distant, though there is a chance it may appear somewhat older (on the order of what maybe a few thousand or even million years) due to increased mutation rates due to the harsh conditions. Still, in this case, it would be pretty obvious that any organism we find is due to contamination.

2.) It is very genetically distant while using similar biochemistry and the same genetic code to life on Earth. Depending on what kind of timescale we are talking about based on "molecular clock" techniques, it could indicate contamination a VERY long time ago due to ejecta from huge impacts (like the one that probably took out most of the dinosaurs) making its way to Mars with said organisms, just as Martian meteorites have been found on Earth.

3.) It is very genetically distant (on the order of greater than or nearly equal to 4 billion years), which would indicate support for the panspermia hypothesis, as we would have life on two different planets showing the same origin while also showing the genetic differences we'd expect from ~4 billion years of isolation. This would effectively disprove an Earth-based abiogenesis event, while neither supporting nor refuting such an event before the formation of the planets of our solar system and then said life being "seeded" here.

4.) It is completely genetically different, using an entirely different genetic code (and perhaps even translation apparatus) but still with similar enough biochemistr ...


I think the issue might be that a foreign microbe might be superior in the environment and take over - which creates it's own problems...Kudzu?

And you may be right, but until we know, science would typically suggest caution - one thing that is always happening with science as you know is improving the technology/resolution of our tools - look at what happened to the microscope in the 20th century - from light waves to electron beams, from cellular structure down to atomic level resolution in about 60 years.

It's interesting though in that it proves the persistence of life.
 
2014-05-04 11:23:54 AM  
Interesting. But I have questions.

Isn't the purpose of sporulation to protect the organism when conditions are too harsh for the organism to survive in its normal state?

What I'm getting at is that there is no evolution without reproduction. Evolution is necessary for earth bacterium to adapt to Mars' conditions, as they are currently adapted to earth.

Sporulation puts normal life processes in suspension; no reproduction, no evolution.

So if spores get to mars, they will remain spores - i.e. inert - because conditions are never appropriate for the bacterium to desporulate and continue on with life. Such spores will never "colonize" Mars because they will not be able to reproduce and evolve. If they desporulate, they die before they have time to adapt. If they remain spores, they cannot reproduce and adapt to conditions.

Put another way, we can land a bunch of inert human corpses onto the surface of Mars, but that's not exactly colonizing the planet, now is it?

/correct me if I'm wrong
//IANAB
///spore
 
2014-05-04 11:30:17 AM  
Good.  Seed the planet with photosynthetic bacteria that can survive in Mars' thin atmosphere.  Call us in 1000 years.
 
2014-05-04 11:30:44 AM  
What a remarkable discovery that it's so easy to spread life and have it flourish just by showing up.
 
2014-05-04 11:31:56 AM  
We should consider that exploration of Mars by Earthlings could be a very long, drawn out process that suffers long periods of interruption. In the most extreme scenario, humanity is wiped out, and hundreds of million of years from now, a successor form of intelligent life of Earth starts to explore Mars and finds that its natural state is unknowable because humans farked it up. Suppose an Earth micro-organism we sent to Mars out-competes an undiscovered Mars micro-organism to extinction?

Though in a way that's kind of cool. Humanity would fascinate these future beings, wouldn't it, like we would be their dinosaurs but much cooler, right?
 
2014-05-04 11:36:04 AM  
And I for one welcome our future micro-organic masters.
 
2014-05-04 11:44:15 AM  

Nem Wan: We should consider that exploration of Mars by Earthlings could be a very long, drawn out process that suffers long periods of interruption. In the most extreme scenario, humanity is wiped out, and hundreds of million of years from now, a successor form of intelligent life of Earth starts to explore Mars and finds that its natural state is unknowable because humans farked it up. Suppose an Earth micro-organism we sent to Mars out-competes an undiscovered Mars micro-organism to extinction?

Though in a way that's kind of cool. Humanity would fascinate these future beings, wouldn't it, like we would be their dinosaurs but much cooler, right?


I was thinking the same thing the other day when the thread with the panoramic of mars came up. How freaking awesome will it be for our successor species to claw it's way to space flight long after our extinction event takes place only to find our broken down probes on Mars? The only thing that would keep the shock from blowing there mind is if our extinction leaves behind plenty of relics showing what we accomplished as a species.

If some type of event happens which also finds a way of wiping out almost all traces of us, and our successors have no clue as to our prior existence, their minds will reel with the implications!
 
2014-05-04 11:49:30 AM  
TMBG - All Alone

Relevant?

/Behold the mystery
 
2014-05-04 12:08:26 PM  
I don't see the problem with seeding other planets with life. Especially if we can make it habitable for us later.

You can't fark up a dead planet.
 
2014-05-04 12:16:19 PM  

LargeCanine: I don't see the problem with seeding other planets with life. Especially if we can make it habitable for us later.

You can't fark up a dead planet.


The problem is we don't know it's dead, and our earthling companion microbes could wipe out the Mars microbes that are the last surviving remnants of a long-dormant biosphere. And then where we gonna get new drugs, huh?
 
2014-05-04 12:30:10 PM  

LargeCanine: I don't see the problem with seeding other planets with life. Especially if we can make it habitable for us later.

You can't fark up a dead planet.


AngryDragon: Good.  Seed the planet with photosynthetic bacteria that can survive in Mars' thin atmosphere.  Call us in 1000 years.



No liquid core = no magnetosphere = any atmosphere of any density akin to earth will be stripped away by solar winds (not to mention exposure to deadly radiation)

Unless someone plans on re-enacting the shiatty movie "The Core" and try to jumpstart the planet, no amount of bacteria will terraform it to be a real 2nd Earth. You would have better luck building a giant MegaMaid and sucking all of the CO2 out of Venus' atmosphere to reduce the greenhouse effect and waiting 1,000 years to see if it cooled down enough for liquid water to exist on the surface for more than a few moments.
 
2014-05-04 12:55:14 PM  

RoxtarRyan: LargeCanine: I don't see the problem with seeding other planets with life. Especially if we can make it habitable for us later.

You can't fark up a dead planet.

AngryDragon: Good.  Seed the planet with photosynthetic bacteria that can survive in Mars' thin atmosphere.  Call us in 1000 years.


No liquid core = no magnetosphere = any atmosphere of any density akin to earth will be stripped away by solar winds (not to mention exposure to deadly radiation)

Unless someone plans on re-enacting the shiatty movie "The Core" and try to jumpstart the planet, no amount of bacteria will terraform it to be a real 2nd Earth. You would have better luck building a giant MegaMaid and sucking all of the CO2 out of Venus' atmosphere to reduce the greenhouse effect and waiting 1,000 years to see if it cooled down enough for liquid water to exist on the surface for more than a few moments.


Any atmospheric loss from solar winds would take place over millions, possibly even hundreds of millions, of years. I think by then we either won't be around to see it revert back to its original state, or we'll be long passed using planets to live on and won't care.
 
2014-05-04 12:59:59 PM  
You're talking about grave-robbing space mushrooms.
 
2014-05-04 01:51:18 PM  
TRUE
there is NO WAY to do a DNA test on something that we might find on Mars.
LOL
 
2014-05-04 01:51:55 PM  
www.lotustalk.com
They've considered this possibility for decades.
 
2014-05-04 04:33:38 PM  

Elegy: Evolution is necessary for earth bacterium to adapt to Mars' conditions


Not extremeophiles. Mars is VERY cold, not impossibly cold. Sometimes it's so warm CO2 doesn't even freeze.

.
 
2014-05-04 04:46:37 PM  

Elegy: Interesting. But I have questions.

Isn't the purpose of sporulation to protect the organism when conditions are too harsh for the organism to survive in its normal state?

What I'm getting at is that there is no evolution without reproduction. Evolution is necessary for earth bacterium to adapt to Mars' conditions, as they are currently adapted to earth.

Sporulation puts normal life processes in suspension; no reproduction, no evolution.

So if spores get to mars, they will remain spores - i.e. inert - because conditions are never appropriate for the bacterium to desporulate and continue on with life. Such spores will never "colonize" Mars because they will not be able to reproduce and evolve. If they desporulate, they die before they have time to adapt. If they remain spores, they cannot reproduce and adapt to conditions.

Put another way, we can land a bunch of inert human corpses onto the surface of Mars, but that's not exactly colonizing the planet, now is it?

/correct me if I'm wrong
//IANAB
///spore


There are a couple of bacteria we know of that can live on Mars as is, given appropriate energy inputs. They eat rock. They don't need an atmosphere, though they would synthesize an oxygenated atmosphere if Mars had a functional magnetic field to protect it. But they can survive, in active form, through a launch, hard radiation of space, and be able to survive on Mars afterwards as it is today.
 
2014-05-04 05:15:31 PM  

RoxtarRyan: LargeCanine: I don't see the problem with seeding other planets with life. Especially if we can make it habitable for us later.

You can't fark up a dead planet.

AngryDragon: Good.  Seed the planet with photosynthetic bacteria that can survive in Mars' thin atmosphere.  Call us in 1000 years.


No liquid core = no magnetosphere = any atmosphere of any density akin to earth will be stripped away by solar winds (not to mention exposure to deadly radiation)

Unless someone plans on re-enacting the shiatty movie "The Core" and try to jumpstart the planet, no amount of bacteria will terraform it to be a real 2nd Earth. You would have better luck building a giant MegaMaid and sucking all of the CO2 out of Venus' atmosphere to reduce the greenhouse effect and waiting 1,000 years to see if it cooled down enough for liquid water to exist on the surface for more than a few moments.


Yea. I'm a big fan of Mars, but sadly a stable atmo just isn't in the cards without some tech-so-aadvanced-its-magic shiat happening a millions years from now.

Would make a good Ag base / research base; better than pumping the groundwater tables of a stable, habitable planet dry and spoiling its oceans...

/gonna watch me some cowboy bebop
 
2014-05-04 09:05:28 PM  
I remember reading similar concerns. In The Andromeda Strain. In about 1972.

/Excuse me, I need to go yell at a cloud or two
 
2014-05-05 10:11:28 AM  
Does this mean we might have been terraforming Mars from the moment our first probe arrived?
 
2014-05-05 10:12:54 AM  

Elegy: Interesting. But I have questions.

Isn't the purpose of sporulation to protect the organism when conditions are too harsh for the organism to survive in its normal state?

What I'm getting at is that there is no evolution without reproduction. Evolution is necessary for earth bacterium to adapt to Mars' conditions, as they are currently adapted to earth.

Sporulation puts normal life processes in suspension; no reproduction, no evolution.

So if spores get to mars, they will remain spores - i.e. inert - because conditions are never appropriate for the bacterium to desporulate and continue on with life. Such spores will never "colonize" Mars because they will not be able to reproduce and evolve. If they desporulate, they die before they have time to adapt. If they remain spores, they cannot reproduce and adapt to conditions.

Put another way, we can land a bunch of inert human corpses onto the surface of Mars, but that's not exactly colonizing the planet, now is it?

/correct me if I'm wrong
//IANAB
///spore


...only one way to find out...
 
2014-05-05 08:52:18 PM  
Yeah NASA. Reporting on what Sagan did 30 years later.
// I guess if you can't get off the ground, this kinda bullshiat and kissing shatner's ass is about all you have left.
/// thank godparticle the "pro-science" party raped NASA's budget.
 
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