The Discovery News website this week is reporting some pretty mind-blowing stuff on whether there is bacterial life on Mars, accompanied by an exciting quote from neuropharmacologist and biologist Joseph Miller (who is at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine). Bottom line: Earth is probably not the only planet in our solar system with life on it.
New analysis of 36-year-old data, resuscitated from printouts, shows NASA found life on Mars, an international team of mathematicians and scientists conclude in a paper published this week.
Further, NASA doesn’t need a human expedition to Mars to nail down the claim, neuropharmacologist and biologist Joseph Miller, with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, told Discovery News.
“The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope — watch the bacteria move,” Miller said.
“On the basis of what we’ve done so far, I’d say I’m 99 percent sure there’s life there,” he added. [...]
[Miller] also is reanalyzing the data to see if there are variations when sunlight was blocked by a weeks-long dust storm on Mars, with the idea being that biological systems would have acted differently to the environmental change than geologic ones. Results of the research are expected to be presented in August.
National Geographic’s website is also reporting the story, with some intriguing details:
[A]fter running Viking’s LR data through a mathematical test designed to separate biological signals from nonbiological signals, [Joseph] Miller’s team believes that the LR experiments did indeed find signs of microbial life in Martian soil.
“It’s very possible that if you have microbes, they’re living a couple of inches beneath the soil, close to water ice,” he said. [...]
[T]he new findings are consistent with a previous study published by Miller, in which his team found signs of a Martian circadian rhythm in the Viking LR experiment results. . . . [Miller said, "W]e think circadian rhythms are a good signal for life.”
Miller is also quoted as saying the following:
[I]f they [NASA scientists in the next Mars mission, dubbed Curiosity] see a circadian rhythm in the methane release into the atmosphere, it would be very consistent with what we saw.