Evidence of Extant Insect-like Organisms on Mars

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Last year (2019) I presented a poster describing evidence of higher life forms in NASA/JPL rover photographs relayed to Earth from Mars. In this poster, I focus solely on evidence of extant insect-like organisms on Mars and include significant new material. Evidence to be presented supports the presence of extant insect-like ("insectoid") forms on Mars; the ability of these to walk, run, glide, and fly; the occurrence of sheltering/ nesting behavior; and the presence of immature forms. Among the apparent diversity of organic forms that can be seen in the rover photos, there are two particularly common insect-like types, a relatively smaller "bee-like" (in the Earth sense) form, and a larger form. These are not necessarily insects in the Earth sense and do not necessarily represent discrete taxa, but within each group they are very similar. For convenience the Martian forms will be referred to as "bee-like insectoid" and "large insectoid". Critics of this research reject the possibility of higher life forms on Mars largely because, according to NASA, the conditions are simply too harsh to support higher life forms, and because NASA has not acknowledged their presence. Neither of these reasons should prevent an established scientist from presenting evidence to the contrary.

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The detection of liquid water by the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) at the base of the south polar layered deposits in Ultimi Scopuli has reinvigorated the debate about the origin and stability of liquid water under present-day Martian conditions. To establish the extent of subglacial water in this region, we acquired new data, achieving extended radar coverage over the study area. Here, we present and discuss the results obtained by a new method of analysis of the complete MARSIS dataset, based on signal processing procedures usually applied to terrestrial polar ice sheets. Our results strengthen the claim of the detection of a liquid water body at Ultimi Scopuli and indicate the presence of other wet areas nearby. We suggest that the waters are hypersaline perchlorate brines, known to form at Martian polar regions and thought to survive for an extended period of time on a geological scale at below-eutectic temperatures.
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Evidence is reviewed which supports the hypothesis that prokaryotes and eukaryotes may have colonized Mars. One source of Martian life, is Earth. A variety of species remain viable after long term exposure to the radiation intense environment of space, and may survive ejection from Earth following meteor strikes, ejection from the stratosphere and mesosphere via solar winds, and sterilization of Mars-bound spacecraft; whereas simulations studies have shown that prokaryotes, fungi and lichens survive in simulated Martian environments-findings which support the hypothesis life may have been repeatedly transferred from Earth to Mars. Four independent investigators have reported what appears to be fungi and lichens on the Martian surface, whereas a fifth investigator reported what may be cyanobacteria. In another study, a statistically significant majority of 70 experts, after examining Martian specimens photographed by NASA, identified and agreed fungi, basidiomycota ("puffballs"), and lichens may have colonized Mars. Fifteen specimens resembling and identified as "puffballs" were photographed emerging from the ground over a three day period. It is possible these latter specimens are hematite and what appears to be "growth" is due to a strong wind which uncovered these specimens-an explanation which cannot account for before and after photos of what appears to be masses of fungi growing atop and within the Mars rovers. Terrestrial hematite is in part fashioned and cemented together by prokaryotes and fungi, and thus Martian hematite may also be evidence of biology. Three independent research teams have identified sediments on Mars resembling stromatolites and outcroppings having micro meso and macro characteristics typical of terrestrial microbialites constructed by cyanobacteria. Quantitative morphological analysis determined these latter specimens are statistically and physically similar to terrestrial stromatolites. Reports of water, biological residue discovered in Martian meteor ALH84001, the seasonal waning and waxing of atmospheric and ground level Martian methane which on Earth is 90% due to biology and plant growth and decay, and results from the 1976 Mars Viking Labeled Release Experiments indicating biological activity, also support the hypothesis that Mars was, and is, a living planet. Nevertheless, much of the evidence remains circumstantial and unverified, and the possibility of life on Mars remains an open question.
The 1976 Viking Labeled Release (LR) experiment was positive for extant microbial life on the surface of Mars. Experiments on both Viking landers, 4000 miles apart, yielded similar, repeatable, positive responses. While the authors eventually concluded that the experiment detected martian life, this was and remains a highly controversial conclusion. Many believe that the martian environment is inimical to life and the LR responses were nonbiological, attributed to an as-yet-unidentified oxidant (or oxidants) in the martian soil. Unfortunately, no further metabolic experiments have been conducted on Mars. Instead, follow-on missions have sought to define the martian environment, mostly searching for signs of water. These missions have collected considerable data regarding Mars as a habitat, both past and present. The purpose of this article is to consider recent findings about martian water, methane, and organics that impact the case for extant life on Mars. Further, the biological explanation of the LR and recent nonbiological hypotheses are evaluated. It is concluded that extant life is a strong possibility, that abiotic interpretations of the LR data are not conclusive, and that, even setting our conclusion aside, biology should still be considered as an explanation for the LR experiment. Because of possible contamination of Mars by terrestrial microbes after Viking, we note that the LR data are the only data we will ever have on biologically pristine martian samples. Key Words: Extant life on Mars-Viking Labeled Release experiment-Astrobiology-Extraterrestrial life-Mars. Astrobiology 16, 798-810.
Flying insects may enhance their flight force production by contralateral wing interaction during dorsal stroke reversal ('clap-and-fling'). In this study, we explored the forces and moments due to clap-and-fling at various wing tip trajectories, employing a dynamically scaled electromechanical flapping device. The 17 tested bio-inspired kinematic patterns were identical in stroke amplitude, stroke frequency and angle of attack with respect to the horizontal stroke plane but varied in heaving motion. Clap-and-fling induced vertical force augmentation significantly decreased with increasing vertical force production averaged over the entire stroke cycle, whereas total force augmentation was independent from changes in force produced by a single wing. Vertical force augmentation was also largely independent of forces produced due to wing rotation at the stroke reversals, the sum of rotational circulation and wake capture force. We obtained maximum (17.4%) and minimum (1.4%) vertical force augmentation in two types of figure-eight stroke kinematics whereby rate and direction of heaving motion during fling may explain 58% of the variance in vertical force augmentation. This finding suggests that vertical wing motion distinctly alters the flow regime at the beginning of the downstroke. Using an analytical model, we determined pitching moments acting on an imaginary body of the flapping device from the measured time course of forces, the changes in length of the force vector's moment arm, the position of the centre of mass and body angle. The data show that pitching moments are largely independent from mean vertical force; however, clap-and-fling reinforces mean pitching moments by approximately 21%, compared to the moments produced by a single flapping wing. Pitching moments due to clap-and-fling significantly increase with increasing vertical force augmentation and produce nose-down moments in most of the tested patterns. The analytical model, however, shows that algebraic sign and magnitude of these moments may vary distinctly depending on both body angle and the distance between the wing hinge and the animal's centre of mass. Altogether, the data suggest that the benefit of clap-and-fling wing beat for vertical force enhancement and pitch balance may change with changing heaving motion and thus wing tip trajectory during manoeuvring flight. We hypothesize that these dependencies may have shaped the evolution of wing kinematics in insects that are limited by aerodynamic lift rather than by mechanical power of their flight musculature.
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