First Animal to Survive in Space

I thought that this was an interesting video and worth posting.

The creature in question is called a tardigrade and no one is quite sure as to where it originated from.



There is also a good article on Lichen surviving the ordeals of space travel.

If something like this can hop from Earth to Mars on a meteorite, then how would it manifest itself in the Mars pictures? Can Lichen from Earth adapt and evolve to survive and thrive on Mars? Or do I have this backwards in which Lichen came from Mars and then colonized the Earth?



In the initial images of the ccam, dark and hidden from view as raw images, we had fiber types shapes, found to be of no serious interest to the rover controllers and science group overseeing operations.
In the images of the mcam or mastcam I believe it was on sol 33? we also have a very fine soil colored and toned fiber or 'stick' shape. Again I saw no interest from Earth ground control in further developing a case of identification.
I know these items are seen in images of all three rovers routinely over seven years exploration of Mars.

Could there be any more strange a process of travelling tens of millions of miles, only to miss the opportunities for science about these related objects so foreign to rock and soil type shapes?

What amazes me is the tonnage of items sent to orbit without a compendium of testing of items alive or in stasis such as spores and chemistry precursors which may have been transported routinely to Earth from many sources.

Perhaps the researchers are very familiar with materials which make fiber shapes that are mineral. I have seen only a few minerals, at visible size range, and all are rather unusual and fairly rare on Earth.

Something is missing from this story we are writing.

I appreciate the interest in these 'freezable' animals and fungi/bacteria combination lifeforms from Earth that can be submitted to Mars conditions for periods of time.

It may be fortunate for Earth that most life regroups in the 'soft' normal environment, as a heavy growing population in the polar tundra might change climate and ice cover eventually.

The miniature colony of epiphyte/saprophytes are still alive in my rock garden despite terrible drought, cold, ice burial, and summer constant blazing sun. It has passed through a 'flowering' phase, and is now becoming tendril shaped, whereas it used to be a barrel cactus types shaped closed leaf casing. That colony is found in the high mountains of the Atacama desert and frozen mountaintops of part of the Andes, where nothing much is ever seen growing.
Unfortunately that perennial has passed to a last stage of life cycling. I observed it living next to lichens on a volcanic rock, next to lichens, looking much like a cluster of limpets.

Could the fiber objects in the Curiosity rover images be missed by the overseers?

Nearly everywhere they have looked carefully on Earth, there has been some life found.

I think lichens make a better candidate than tardigrades. Tardigrades need some other life form to eat, so they can't be first colonizers.
Curiosity is probably moving too fast to spot differences like in the Viking article. I think one thing to look for is if they do the chromatography test from the laser and find rocks that look geologically the same with different chemical patterns. That might indicate something growing on the surface.

Dana asked:

"Could the fiber objects in the Curiosity rover images be missed by the overseers?"

Absolutely. If I was a person who dogmatically held on to the belief that Mars is a cold and dead world on the surface, then no amount of evidence to the contrary would persuade me to reconsider my position. However, I am not that kind of person.

I also know that NASA is not going to say anything that will violate Occam's Razor. If something extraordinary does have to be stated, then they will wait and make sure that everything passes the 'duck test'; ie. looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck.

I see the fiber objects, you see the fiber objects, and I am willing to bet that NASA sees them, too. That part passes the 'looks like a duck' portion of the duck test. The 'walks like a duck' is the detection of organics. The 'quacks like a duck' is the fiber objects taking in nutrients (like from a Viking-style LR test), and/or by showing growth/decay (i.e. some kind of a life cycle).

Jo said:

"I think lichens make a better candidate than tardigrades. Tardigrades need some other life form to eat, so they can't be first colonizers."

That's a good point. According to wiki, tardigrades eat other microscopic lifeforms such as rotifers.

Now suppose that tardigrades hopped from Earth to Mars via meteorite or came in from an asteroid in the asteroid belt or a comet in the Oort Cloud, during the formation of the solar system. Would they evolve to thrive on a harsh and desolate world such as Mars?

The following video is an interesting one in that it points out differences between a series of MI images taken by the Mars Phoenix Lander. In this video, there are a number of objects of roughly equal size/shape/form that move about. Now, admittedly, they may just be magnetized rocks in which the arrow like tail of one (middle) and the legs of another (near the top) may just be ordinary tricks of light. Occam's razor says yeah! to that. Or... Maybe they're something else...



This was an amazing video.

Many thanks marsman,Indeed!

JD, Chris, et. all, I appreciate the comments.

My seven year old daughter says they look like really weird bugs.

I told her that you do have to be somewhat careful about sharing your viewpoint, observations, and ideas about life on Mars, because there are still a lot of people who will think that 'You are from Mars' by mentioning anything about life on worlds beyond Earth.



I forgot to comment on the false negative result from the GCMS test for organics. Since Curi is equipped with one of these, then I am predicting the same kind of results of chloromethane and dichloromethane as Mars organics combine and fuse with the perchlorate in the GCMS oven. This will confirm the same GCMS false negatives as observed by the Viking and Phoenix landers.

As Dr. McKay pointed out, they will need to come up with an organics test that can see through the perchlorate without heating up the Martian soil.

Perchlorate is stable on Mars, and can keep water liquid all the way down to -70 degrees celsius. This might also solve the problem of respiration on Mars as an alternate energy pathway. Perchlorate on Earth is used as rocket fuel.

There is a mentioning of microbes and plants on Earth that utilize perchlorate in their metabolism.

What the "just rocks" NASA scientists can't do (or get away with), is say that three false negatives make a right, i.e. say that there are no organics in the Martian soil, any more than I can say that two (or three) wrongs make a right. This particular 'no organics claim' would then be an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence under Occam's razor. In other words they will need to back it up with an organics experiment that does not heat up the Martian soil, and can detect organics on Earth in Antarctic soils and the Atacama desert with 1% perchlorate.



marsman, the MSL GCMS sports a liquid extraction mode to separate putative organics from harmfully chemicals this time so the results will be interesting. McKay is part of the MSL team by the way. :-)

Good points above - totally agree with you.

I found this rather interesting article on the DNA repair and protection mechanisms of tardigrades.