Extraterrestrial life

Is that Mars lake way too salty for life?

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Mars’ south pole ice sheets/NASA

Hugh Ross thinks so. From Tyler O’Neil at PJ Media:

On Wednesday, media outlets breathlessly reported that scientists have discovered a “lake of liquid water” on Mars. Fox News called it a “game changer” in the search for alien life, and Yahoo News reported something similar. The New York Times headline spelled out the implications: “Raising the Potential for Alien Life.”

Hugh Ross

He quotes Hugh Ross,

Ph.D. astronomer Hugh Ross told PJ Media that these reports twisted the truth. In reality, the scientists found what could be a lake, but Ross noted that it certainly does not contain life. The peer-reviewed study published in the journal Science reported on findings from 22 planetary astronomers in Italy working on data from the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding). The word “lake” is a gross mischaracterization of their tenuous discovery.

“This is not a possible site for life, it’s way too cold and way too salty,” the astronomer told PJ Media. “Even the most extreme forms of life on Earth are not able to handle this much salt and cold.” More.

The news copy around life on Mars generally sounds as though it is written for people who have an emotional need to believe that there is life on Mars, whether there is or not. Call it a specialized version of the Drake Equation. The last place to look for reasonable skepticism often turns out to be science writing.

See also: But if we don’t find life on either Mars or Europa… … are we justified in drawing the conclusion that life is just not very common in the galaxy and that we are special? As opposed to They Must Be Out There Somewhere, experienced as an act of faith? What makes that act of faith “science”?

If we are alone in the universe, shouldn’t that make us feel more special? Instead of meaningless? How exactly did we get from “alone” to “meaningless” via eloquence from tenured pundits? Where do we buy return tickets?

“Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …

and

Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

2 Replies to “Is that Mars lake way too salty for life?

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    OK, so this is really a 2 part problem.

    Part 1. Assuming Mars was WAY more Earthlike a couple billion years ago, Mars had the same problems as Earth in developing (being GIVEN?) primitive life.

    Part 2. Without useful van Allen Belts, Mars was then stripped of its atmosphere. Without a protective atmosphere to form the Biosphere, whatever simple, primitive Life that may have developed as pond scum in tidal pools would have died a thousand deaths from galactic radiation, hurricane force winds, and cold deep enough to freeze any surface water.

    So that pretty much leaves us with the freaks that on Earth are called Exremophiles. And as on Earth, Extremophiles are an END STATE, not a development path. That is, surface life deforms itself to invade environments in which life was not intended to live.

    This means that Mars is to be considered MUCH more dangerously INFECTED with nasty little bugs than The Moon. This is just another reason Earthlings should never ever set foot on Mars. And never ever bring back any Mars rocks for direct analysis here on Mother Earth. But humans are smart little critters, and sending REALLY sophisticated MACHINES to locate and analyze really interesting Mars rocks on Mars is clearly cheaper, faster, and MUCH less dangerous than sending humans with specimen bags.

  2. 2

    Don’t know what the beef about salt and cold is about. Most of the ocean is salty and cold, and that never stopped living things before. Here’s some references:

    2011 Diatoms: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20110015734

    2013 PhD on bacteria & archea in -20 C hypersaline lakes:
    http://r.duckduckgo.com/l/?kh=.....123067.pdf

    2016 biology in Great Salt Lake
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037877531631641X

    2018 Lots and Lots of Halophiles: https://www.revolvy.com/topic/Halophile&item_type=topic

    So why is everyone dead set against life on Mars? Is it the same agenda that caused Carl Sagan (e.g. Scientific American 1994) to diss on fellow scientist and colleague on the Mars Viking Lander, Gil Levin, saying “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”? Would his own Viking Lander experiment have been “extraordinary” in contrast to Levin’s “ordinary”? I could mention another dozen “non-discovery” Mars pressers from Phoenix, Mars Curiosity, etc., but I get the strong impression there’s a conspiracy of denial here.

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