Sunday, December 21, 2008

At the Mountains of Mars: Icy Madness?


A century after Lovecraft's dalliance at Upton's telescope and meeting Percival Loweel, another Brown University professor makes news.
Using radar from an orbiting spacecraft to penetrate the hidden recesses of Mars, planetary prospectors have uncovered vast reserves of water-ice buried beneath rocky debris. The ice resides in hilly sections of the Red Planet’s southern and northern mid-latitudes and amounts to the largest reservoir of frozen water outside of Mars’ polar regions. The ice could be equal to as much as 10 percent of the volume of frozen water in the planet’s polar ice caps.
Jack Holt of the University of Texas in Austin ... & Jim Head of Brown University in Providence, R.I., describe the radar evidence for the buried ice deposits in the Nov. 21 Science and in an upcoming Geophysical Research Letters.
Evidence is building that microbial life forms NOT on the surface of a planet (or moon) but a few miles beneath the surface where temperatures are above 250 F and the pressure makes steam remain a liquid. Iron, sulfur, and organic molecules, make the primordial soup and from thence the microorganisms percolate to the surface. Once at the surface, such as Old Faithful in Yellowstone, or a deep sea vent, they leak out, engage the new environment as exophiles, and begin combining into complex bacteria, yeasts, molds, and so forth until more and more complex life forms.
We have examples of the same funtions of life - eyes, teeth, all the way to large scale organisms- being created on Earth multiple places and multiple epochs. If it happened here, over and over, each time a meteor wiped out life, it is happening on other worlds, other solar systems, and in other galazies and times. The laws of chemistry and physics seem to be consistent throughout our 13+ billion years and everywhere we look.

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