Life on Mars: The Hunt for Martian Dinosaurs

Can Mars support life? Is there anything living on Mars right now? It sometimes seems like Mars is desperately trying to convince us that the answer to both questions is yes.

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If you’re hunting for alien life in the Solar System, there are four places you should pay attention to: Mars, Europa, Enceladus, and Titan. Now a thought recently occurred to me—a thought that I’m sure has occurred to other people before: in an astrobiological sense, these four worlds sort of represent the past, present, and future.

  • Mars: a place where alien life might have existed and thrived in the past.
  • Europa and Enceladus: places where life may exist and thrive in the present.
  • Titan: a place where life might start to evolve and thrive sometime in the future (assuming it hasn’t started already).

Regarding Mars, there was clearly a time when rivers, lakes, and oceans of liquid water covered the Martian surface. There’s growing evidence that at least some of the organic chemicals necessary for life were also present. Therefore it’s easy to imagine a time millions or perhaps billions of years ago when Mars had a biosphere as rich and robust as prehistoric Earth’s.

Obviously that robust biosphere is gone now. Even when we hear about the possibility that life still exists on present-day Mars, it’s generally assumed that this life would be only a remnant of what came before. The microbial survivors of whatever wiped out the Martian dinosaurs, so to speak.

Someday (hopefully soon), humans will travel to Mars. When we get there, we may find that all the Martians are long dead. That might seem a bit depressing, but actually I’m kind of excited by the idea that the fossilized remains of Martian dinosaurs might be there, waiting for us to come dig them up.

5 Responses to Life on Mars: The Hunt for Martian Dinosaurs

  1. I suspect any life we find in these places is going to be pretty simple, but finding it would tell us a lot about its general pervasiveness in the universe. Find life anywhere else in the solar system, confirm that it is completely independent of Earth life, and we’ll know that the universe is filled with it. Failing to find it wouldn’t mean we’re alone, but it might tell us that the development of life is a low probability event.

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Pailly says:

      That is true. Finding any form of alien life anywhere in our Solar System dramatically increases the odds of finding it elsewhere.

      I may be a little overly optimistic about our chances of finding the fossilized remains of complex life on Mars. But Mars appears to have had the right sort of conditions for a long enough period of time. I think the possibility exists.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Spacer Guy says:

    Rockets and jets means us Earthers are still the dumb ones. We don’t have anything remotely fast like hyperspeed or warpspeed just supersonic jets I guess. Mars is a fascinating place. Gordon Cooper encountered UFO’s in 1951 probably sent from an operational base in Mars, most likely hehe.

    He believed ET spaceships had crews visiting from other planets. Technically speaking it would appear ETs are ahead of us as intelligent lifeforms. We’ll have to see but one thing is clear. This guy Cooper is no messer. He flew a jet and wrote to the UN. I have no doubt our search for Alien Lifeforms will continue, God bless them.

    Like

  3. I’m secretly waiting to find out that we were the life that was on Mars and we forgot all about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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