A scientific article reviews the discovery of free oxygen, a biomarker in the atmosphere of Mars. Other signs of life including what seem like algae and mushroom are also present.
The new article is titled “Mars: Subglacial Oceans, Ice, Life, Abiogenic Photosynthesis, Seasonal Increases and Replenishment of Atmospheric Oxygen” and was published in the journal of open astronomy. The claim in this article is very simple, and has wide-spanning implications:
” Free oxygen is a biomarker produced by photosynthesizing organisms. “
They further elaborate by explaining how these seasonal fluctuations of Oxygen resemble organically powered cycles on our own planet.
“Diurnal and spring/summer increases in oxygen have been documented, and these variations parallel biologically induced fluctuations on Earth.”
The scientists appear to be divided in their interpretation of the data but the article is very clear. Remember that “great claims require great proof” and that researchers are train to remain skeptical even when the evidence is strong.
…organic matter has been detected and specimens resembling green algae / cyanobacteria, lichens, stromatolites, and open apertures and fenestrae for the venting of oxygen produced via photosynthesis have been observed.”
What is most incredible however is the apparent confusion over the origin of these seemingly organic structures that were found on the red planet.
“These life-like specimens include thousands of lichen-mushroom-shaped structures with thin stems, attached to rocks, topped by bulbous caps, and oriented skyward similar to photosynthesizing organisms. If these specimens are living, fossilized or abiogenic is unknown.”
The question being – how can it be unknown as to whether or not an organic looking specimen is alive fossilized or not actually organic at all? Why would they wait to conduct the next study that would determine this? Does this suggest life on Mars may be more “stone-like” but nonetheless alive? Considering the religious and philosophical implications of some kind of final judgement, are scientists being extra cautious in how they communicate these findings?
NOTE: They do mention that “abiogenic processes might also contribute to oxygenation via sublimation and seasonal melting of subglacial water-ice deposits coupled with UV splitting of water molecules;”
Methane, another potential biomarker was also discovered on mars.