22 September 2005 Mars life: how Darwinian pressures might have shaped its form and function
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Abstract
The possible existence of life on Mars is now gaining credence. Evidence consistent with or supporting the presence of extant microbial life, as reported by a life detection experiment on the Viking Mission in 1976, has been rapidly accumulating from spacecraft orbital and lander operations, and from terrestrial observations. Vast oceans of frozen water near the planet's surface are being discovered, with strong indications of recent or present liquid flows, and theory and laboratory experiment have demonstrated that liquid water should exist on the surface of Mars. The biosphere on Earth has been extended into extreme environments until recently thought inimical to life. Places void of life have become rare. No life requirement has been found lacking on Mars. It is possible that, by the time of this 50th Anniversary SPIE Meeting, the paradigm shift accepting life beyond the Earth may have been made. Mankind will then emerge from its ancient fear of loneliness into a new fear of anticipation of what that still unidentified life might portend. The author attempts to apply Darwinian principles of evolution to life on Mars under the selection pressures, opportunities and constraints that have been imposed by past and present Martian conditions. Starting with the type of cell believed to have begun the evolutionary process on Earth, he speculates on what the current life on Mars may be like in form and function, including what threat or promise it might hold for Earth life.
© (2005) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Gilbert V. Levin, Gilbert V. Levin, } "Mars life: how Darwinian pressures might have shaped its form and function", Proc. SPIE 5906, Astrobiology and Planetary Missions, 59060D (22 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.624634; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.624634
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