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Algae on Mars: A Summary of the Evidence

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Abstract

Evidence from Mars of what may be algae, thrombolites, microbialites, microbial mats, stromatolites, and ooids is summarized. Also briefly discussed is evidence of chlorophyll, seasonal fluctuations in atmospheric oxygen, and what may be photosynthesis-oxygen gas vents adjacent to specimens resembling algae and lichens. The possible presence of calcium carbonate and calcium oxalate is also summarized the latter of which might be produced by lichens: an algae-fungi symbiotic organism that Joseph et al. (2021) believe are attached to rocks on Mars.

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... In support of this theory, is evidence of fossilized metazoans on Mars (Armstrong 2021a;Joseph 2020bJoseph , 2021aSuamanarathna et al. 2021) and evidence that 800 million years ago, Earth (and presumably Mars) were struck by an armada of meteorites, which may have transferred innumerable viruses and other organisms to Earth (Joseph et al. 2020a, Joseph & Duvall, 2021. Even if Martian organisms were not transferred to Earth, the fact that specimens on Mars that resemble stromatolites, algae, fungus, lichens, and metazoan invertebrates are nearly identical to those of Earth (Joseph et al. 2020a,b;Joseph et al. 2021a,c;Armstrong 2021a,b;Elewa 2021Latif et al. 2021Bianciardi 2022); and that based on sequential photos fungi appear to be emerging from the soil, growing larger or smaller or moving to new locations (Joseph et al. 2021b), should be viewed as evidence that similar species evolved, possibly independently, on two worlds; and that the same viral genetic seeds fell upon both planets: repeated viral invasions that led to the metamorphosis of similar forms of life independently and in parallel on two different worlds. ...
... Although "astrovirology" is now a recognized field of science, there is, as of this writing, no conclusive evidence that extraterrestrial astro-viruses have been deposited on Earth via solar and galactic winds, meteor, asteroids of comets. However, given the substantial evidence of life on Mars and possibly other planets (Joseph et al. 2020a(Joseph et al. ,b, 2021aArmstrong 2021a,b;Elewa 2021;Latif et al. 2021;Bianciardi 2022), it can be assumed that extraterrestrial viruses would also abound. Given the evidence reviewed here and in numerous other studies, it is highly likely that these putative extraterrestrial viruses have been and are contributing to the evolution of life on Earth, and have contributed to the plagues that have repeatedly sickened life on this planet. ...
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Astrovirology is the study of beneficial vs harmful viruses that originated from comets, meteors, solar winds, and ejecta from other planets, or which mutated when lofted by winds into the upper atmosphere. That these upper atmospheric and putative extraterrestrial viruses have contributed to the evolution of the biosphere and life on Earth, and caused disease and plague, is discussed, and the role of astro-viruses and endogenous retroviruses in the evolution of life and biosphere is reviewed. Evolution leading to the Cambrian Explosion and continuing to humans is characterized by repeated viral invasions and insertion of retroviral genes into host species' genomes. "Evolution" parallels the genetic-biological engineering of the environment (e.g. oxygen production), which activates inherited retroviral genes. Viral plagues are associated with comets, and have caused extinctions that served to promote evolution and eradicate those not "fit." Given evidence of life on Mars and association of plague with comets, extraterrestrial viruses may be commonplace. Extraterrestrial viruses may have acquired genes via interplanetary horizontal gene transfer which in turn have been transferred to the genomes of eukaryotes on Earth. "Evolution" may be the metamorphosis and replication of life and biospheres that evolved on other planets.
... Rock-boring mollusks fall largely into two groups: the Mytilids, which use a solvent as the principal agent of boring, and the bivalves which drill by grinding away the rock with the twisting of their shells (Taylor & Lewis, 2005). However, sponges, algae and other organisms also dissolve rock, and evidence of fossilized and living algae have been reported (Joseph et al. 2014(Joseph et al. , 2021Kaźmierczak 2016Kaźmierczak , 2020Latif et al. 2021;Bianciardi et al. 2021;Rizzo et al. 2021), and what may be fossilized sponges have also been observed (Armstrong 2022;Joseph et al. , 2022; and these, and other marine organisms, including sponges, worms, sea urchins, and crustaceans also drill, burrow, and dissolve rocks forming oval trace fossils (Ali & Taborosi 2013;Marlow et al. 2018;Hutchings 2008;Bak 1994; McClanahan & Kurkis 1991; Dodge-Wan & Nagarajam 2020). ...
... A number of investigators have also reported evidence of stromatolite-and microbialite-like structures on Mars (Rizzo & Castasano 2009;Rizzo et al 2021;Bianciardi et al. 2014Bianciardi et al. , 2015, Small, 2015Noffke 2015;Rabb 2018;2022, Latif et al. 2021, as well as tube worms (Armstrong 2021;Joseph et al 2021;Suamanarathna et al. 2021), sponges (Armstrong 2022;Joseph et al. , 2022, crustaceans, and other marine metazoans (Joseph et al 2021); findings consistent with the presence of large bodies of water that provided a habitat for marine organisms. Hence, as on Earth, rocks at the margins of these bodies of water may also have been invaded by rock-boring organisms, the resulting holes remaining as trace fossils of algae, crustaceans, sponges and mollusks on Mars. ...
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Rocks with numerous deep concave holes similar to trace fossils fashioned by mollusks have been photographed by Viking 2 in Utopia Planitia and the rover Perseverance in the ancient lakes beds of Jezero Crater, Mars. Specimens resembling colonies of worm-like burrowing mollusks occupy some of these concave cavities. A morphological quantitative analysis was conducted comparing various metrics of rock-surface trace fossils created by rock-drilling terrestrial bivalves with rocks with similar deep circular cavities photographed in Jezero Crater and with "heat shield" rock of Meridiani Planum; and additional analysis were performed in comparison to (a) verified meteorites and (b) with Martian and terrestrial vesicular basalt. The morphology, density, size distribution, and spatial patterns of the deep cavities on Jezero Crater rocks and trace fossils created by terrestrial bivalves were significantly statistically similar. The morphology and spatial pattern of these cavities were significantly different from the shallow depressions of meteorites; and the same is true of the Martian "heat shield" rock which is likely an iron-laden sediment that had been colonized by rock-drilling organisms. The Martian and terrestrial borehole rocks are also significantly different from vesicular basalt, and there is no similarity to the wind-carved boulders of Antarctica. Hence, as on Earth, rocks in Utopia Planitia, Meridiani Planum and along an ancient seashore at Jezero crater appear to have been colonized by rock-boring animals. These putative "trace fossils" and worm-like specimens should be considered evidence of life in the ancient inland seas of Mars.
... As documented in Section X of the present report, in addition to Viking 1, dozens of rocks photographed by Viking 2 are matted with greenish-colored masses that clearly resemble colonies of vegetative matter that may include algae, lichens, fungi, and mosses. Formations resembling algae, lichens, fungi (Latiff et al. 2021;Joseph et al. , 2021, and fossilized algae (Kaźmierczak 2016(Kaźmierczak , 2020Bianciardi et al. 2021;Rizzo et al. 2021 Figure 34: Utopia Planitia, Viking 2. Vesicular green colored matter and vesicular sediments that appear to include vesicular basalt, tafoni and those with trace fossils. Note "spongy" (hydrated) appearance of sediment in the lower right. ...
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Vesicular rocks and thick clumps of green-colored matter photographed in Utopia Planitia and Chryse Planitia by NASA's Viking landers were subject to morphological and computerized quantitative pattern analysis. These vesicular rocks are not homogenous and include those similar to vesicular basalts, marine trace fossils, and "tafoni" which on Earth are fashioned via the interactional influences of moisture, powerful winds, the leaching of salts and lichen-chemical weathering. Upon magnification the green-colored vesicular substances closely resemble "vegetative matter" similar to green algae, lichens, mosses and vesicular mats. The green colors (based on false colors derived from spectra) may be indicative of chlorophyll and the capacity to produce oxygen via photosynthesis. These observations, when coupled with the continual replenishment of atmospheric oxygen and evidence of surface frost, subsurface water-ice, and past cycles of flooding and ponding of water, are supported by the positive results from the Viking Labeled Release and Gas Exchange experiments and should be viewed as confirming that beginning in 1976 the USA and NASA's Viking Landers 1 and 2 detected, photographed and discovered life and evidence of past life on Mars.
... The lakes of Gale Crater may have hosted a wide ranging ecosystem that may have been initially based on chemolithoautotrophy as well as photosynthesis (Joseph et al. 2020b,f) and within which oxygen producing stromatolite-building cyanobacteria, eukaryotic algae, and then eukaryotic metazoan marine organisms may have eventually evolved (Armstrong 2021a(Armstrong ,b, 2022Joseph 2014;Joseph et al. 2019;Noffke, 2015;Latif, et al. 2021;Elewa 2021 Lophophorates (Joseph et al. 2020c,d); all of which were embedded adjacent to one another and to specimens that closely resemble each other. ...
Technical Report
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Mars has been subject to repeated waxing and waning episodes of extreme chaotic obliquity (axial tilting) for at least four billion years. Obliquity is currently at 25.19 degrees and has exceeded 80◦. Each time obliquity exceeds 40◦ Martian atmospheric pressures and global temperatures increase causing the melting of glaciers and permafrost and subsurface ice, and resulting in oceans, lakes and rivers of water flooding across the surface then stabilizing and enduring for hundreds of thousands of years or longer. There is evidence that within these seas evolved stromatolite constructing cyanobacteria, green algae, acritarchs, foraminifera, seaweed, and marine metazoan invertebrates including sponges, tube worms, crustaceans, reef-building corals, bivalves, and those resembling Kimberella, Namacalathus and Lophophorates; almost all of which (with the exception of algae, fungi and lichens) may have become extinct. The last episode of extreme obliquity may have begun over a million years in the past and endured until 110,000 years ago. Subsequently, as axial tilting declined, the waters of Mars seeped back beneath the surface forming vast aquifers and glacial deposits of water-ice and the remainder froze at the poles and atop dusty layers of icy-sediment: the remnants of previous obliquity-driven freeze-thaw cycles that may have caused life to evolve and oceans and lakes to repeatedly form, stabilize, endure then freeze.
... Mars and Venus, for example, orbit within the habitable zone of our solar system; yet there is no evidence of intelligent life. Even if Mars and Venus may have been habitable billions of years ago, and despite evidence supporting the possibility that algae, fungi, and lichens may have colonized the Red Planet (Armstrong, 2021a,ab;Bianciardi et al., 2021;Elewa, 2021;Joseph et al. 2020a,b;Latif et al. 2021), there is again no evidence of intelligent life. ...
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We evaluate claims for extraterrestrial intelligence based on the logic behind assertions such as the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. To assess intelligence elsewhere in the universe we outline two of the principle scientific claims for intelligence on Earth. One involves the idea that intelligence involves working out the reasons for our own existence. The other involves self-awareness and the capacity to make inferences about what others know, want, or intend to do. The famous quote from Rene Descartes "I think; therefore, I am" needs to be revised to read "I am; therefore, I think." Some of the conclusions we derive about intelligence include the idea that most species on planet Earth have clever brains but blank minds (no self-consciousness); humans are the only species where what you know could get you killed; if humans become extinct it is highly unlikely that human-like intelligence will re-emerge on this planet and the odds of human-like intelligence evolving on other worlds is infinitely small. However, if intelligence exists elsewhere in the universe it may not have revealed itself because humans are dangerous and are perceived as posing too great a risk.
... As detailed in this report, these Endurance Crater tubular specimens are also morphologically similar to terrestrial tube worms and worm tubes. In addition to colonization by putative Martian "tube worms" Gale and Endurance Craters are believed to have hosted lakes of water at various times in the past thereby providing a habitable environment that promoted the evolution and fossilization of eukaryotes (Grotzinger et al. 2014;Hynek et al. 2015;Squyres et al. 2004Squyres et al. , 2006; and for which there is now some evidence (Baucon et al. 2020;DiGregorio 2018;Elewa 2021;Latif et al. 2021;Joseph et al. 2020a,b;Kaźmierczak 2016Kaźmierczak , 2020. The past watery environment of Endurance Crater (Meridiani Planum) has also been described as a salty "brine" Grotzinger et al. 2005;Squyres et al. 2004Squyres et al. , 2006; and which is also a favored habitat of "tube worms" (Cary et al. 1989;Roberts et al. 2010a,b;Dupré & Brosolo 2010;Monastersky 2012). ...
Article
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Hundreds of tubular and spiral specimens resembling terrestrial tube worms and worm tubes were photographed in the soil and atop and protruding from “rocks” on Sols 177, 199 and 299 in the vicinity of Endurance Crater, Meridiani Planum. Dozens of these putative “worms” and tubes are up to 3 mm in size. These tubular specimens display twisting, bending, and curving typical of biology and are different from abiogenic structures. Morphological comparisons with living and fossilized tube worms and worm tubes also supports the hypothesis that the Martian tubular structures may be biological as they are similar and often nearly identical to their terrestrial counterparts. The literature concerning abiotic and biotic formation of mineralized tubular formations is reviewed and the Martian tubular structures meet the criteria for biology. In addition, larger “anomalous” oval-specimens ranging from 3 mm to 5 mm in diameter were photographed and observed to have web-like appendages reminiscent of crustacean pleopods. That marine organisms may have evolved and flourished in the vicinity of Endurance Crater, Meridiani Planum, was originally predicted by NASA’s rover Opportunity crew in 2004, 2005, and 2006. This area is believed to have hosted a briny body of water that was heated by hydrothermal vents; and these are favored habitats of tube worms. Further, all these specimens were photographed adjacent to vents in the surface and the mineralogy of Endurance Crater is similar to that produced by tube worms and their symbiotes. However, if any of these specimens are alive, fossilized, mineralized or dormant is unknown. Abiotic explanations cannot be ruled out and it cannot be stated with absolute certainty they are biological.
... However, life on Mars did not cease to evolve ) and creatures with multiple legs and eyes have been When Mars experienced this cosmic calamity and mass extinction is unknown, but may have taken place around 800 million years ago ) when the inner solar system and the Earth-Moon was bombarded by an armada of meteors (Tanaka et al. 2020). This is not to rule out the possibility that Mars became a failed Earth billions of years ago, or in the last 35,000 years as there are eye-witness accounts detailing that Mars was struck by a celestial object creating a spear-like wound in the belly of the planet as described in Homer's the Iliad; and the evidence of which is the spear-like canyon, Valles Marineris, across the "belly" of the Red Planet that may have been carved by a moonsized comet Regardless of when these cataclysmic events took place, life on Mars was not completely eradicated as living algae, fungi, and lichens have been identified (Armstrong 2021;Dass, 2017;Joseph 2006Joseph , 2014Joseph , 2016Joseph , 2021Krupa 2017;Latif et al 2021). Moreover, sequential photographs, from the rovers Opportunity and Curiosity, prove that these and other organisms grow, emerge from the surface, multiply, move to different locations, and have even contaminated and colonized the rovers ). ...
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Reviewed in this report: It took a minimum of 7 billion years of genetic duplicative events for the first gene to become a life sustaining genome; i.e. at least 2.4 billion years before Earth was formed. Potentially habitable planets have been identified at least 5 billion years older than Earth. Microfossils have been found in meteors older than this solar system including evidence of evolutionary progression leading to corals and sponges. There is evidence of life, fossils and evolution on Mars paralleling Earth leading up to the Cambrian Explosion. The implications are: life on Earth-like planets evolves in patterns similar to life on Earth. Megastructures have been observed orbiting our own and distant suns. For thousands of years there have been reports of flying craft (“Unusual Aerial Phenomena”). According to a report by the U.S.A Office of the Director of National Intelligence these “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” engage in maneuvers at hypersonic speeds that are completely beyond our technological capabilities or understanding. The implications are that Earth and its inhabitants are under surveillance. It is concluded that intelligent life and technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations have evolved in this galaxy on numerous Earth-like worlds, including those billions of years older than our own.
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There are planets in this galaxy over 10 billion years in age. Given the necessity of a stabilizing moon to prevent chaotic obliquity, the number of habitable planets upon which human-like intelligent life could have evolved may range from a minimum of 155 worlds to over 8 billion planets in this galaxy. Intelligent life that evolved on these older worlds may have reached what Nikolai Kardashev has described as Type I, II, III extraterrestrial civilizations billions of years ago. Type I civilizations may be capable of visiting and exploiting other planets in their solar system. Humans of Earth may not reach Type I status for another 200 years. Type II extraterrestrial civilizations would have developed the capacity to exploit the energy resources of their own stars and could have engineered energy capturing megastructures (Dyson spheres). Type III may be capable of harnessing the energy of entire galaxies. It is proposed that Type IV would be capable of conquering the universe and creating a universe and other dimensions. Robotic Artificially Intelligent civilizations may have also evolved in the transition from Type I to Type II. Type II and Type III extraterrestrial civilizations may account for what is now described as "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." If Earth is under extraterrestrial surveillance they may be relying on the non-habituation anthropological observational model so they do not affect "natural" human behavior and (A) intend us no harm; or (B) they are monitoring our technological development and if humans become a threat they may destroy our technology and civilization; or (C) as warned by Stephen Hawking, they intend to conquer our planet.
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Forms resembling sponges or coral were photographed in Gale crater, Mars by the Curiosity rover 'Mars Hand Lens Imager' (MAHLI) on sol 3396 that may represent the result of either mineralization or be evidence of fossilisation. At least seven individual structures were observed showing various degrees of fragmentation, but the most complete specimen was approximately 1.3 cm across and consisted of apparently branched 'tubes' attached to the substratum at a single point. At higher magnification, a reticulate surface texture and possible pores were apparent; findings consistent with a biological origin. Although a mineral accretion or concretion cannot be ruled out, it is more probable that the structures represent the fossilised remains of a type of sponge or coral, the former being the more likely. In the early life of Gale crater, these putative sponges may have lived at the bottom of a shallow, saline lake, subsequently becoming preserved in deposits of sand or silt, and then were gradually exposed over long periods of time.
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The observation of tubular structures within Endurance Crater, Mars, has been reported by Joseph et al (2021a,b) who hypothesized these may be mineralized and fossilized remnants of tube worms that in the ancient and recent past flourished within lakes of water heated by thermal vents. The discovery of what may be spherical hematite in this same vicinity supports the hydrothermal vent scenario, whereas the claims by Joseph (2021; Joseph et al. 2021c) that these spherules are fungal puffballs does not. This evidence from Endurance Crater and associated mineralogy and chemistry is reviewed. We conclude that the ancient lakes of Endurance Crater may have been heated by thermal vents and inhabited by tubular organisms that became mineralized, as hypothesized by Joseph et al; and that these same hydrothermal vents formed hematite spherules as hypothesized by the rover Opportunity team.
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In the ancient and recent past, various niches on Mars were habitable and possibly inhabited by organisms that have evolved and adapted to extreme surface and subsurface environments. Habitability is promoted by the high levels of iron that promotes melanization of various organisms that protects against radiation. Glacial and water-ice below the surface provides moisture to organisms at temperatures below freezing due to salts in these ices and heat generated from anomalous thermal sources. Impact craters formed over 3.7 bya appear to be highly magnetized thus providing additional protection against radiation; and if initially hosting a large body of water may have triggered the formation of hydrothermal vents. Tube worms, sulfur-reducing and other chemoautotrophs have thrived and likely still inhabit subsurface aquifers within Endurance Crater which was formed over 3.7 bya, has hosted large bodies of water, and also has the mineralogy of hydrothermal vents and surface holes surrounded by tubular specimens. Formations resembling fossil tube worms have also been observed in the ancient lake beds of Gale Crater which was formed over 3.7 bya. A comparative quantitative analysis of the Gale and Endurance Crater tubular specimens provides additional confirmation for the tube-worm hydrothermal vent hypothesis.
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We present over 200 photographs that as a collective totality proves there is life on Mars. These include photos of Martian algae, microbial mats, stromatolites, lichens, fungi, fungus, fossils, tubular organisms; and sequential images documenting that Martian organisms are growing out of the ground, increasing in size, moving to new locations; and that fungi are engaging in reproductive behavior by shedding spores that produce embryonic fungus. This conclusive evidence represents the collective investigative efforts of several teams of scientific experts, 24 scientists in total, the names of whom are listed in the publications cited in the Reference section; each article discussing and providing scholarly references for the conclusions reached. This document consists almost entirely of photos and is arranged in 15 sections: (1) Algae and Microbial Mats; (2) Stromatolites; (3) Algae & Lichen-Algae; (4) Algae Fruiting Bodies and Networks of Calcium Oxalate; (5) Dimpled Lichens & Algae Fruiting Bodies; (6) Photosynthesis and Gas Bubbles; (7) Vast Colonies of Rock-Dwelling Lichens; (8) Fungal Puffballs (vs the Hematite Hoax); (9) Fungus, Spores, Reproduction, Embryonic Fungi; (10) Colonies Of Arctic Algae, Fungus, Mold, Lichens; (11) Growth, Movement, Behavior; (12) Fungus and Bacteria Growth on the Rovers; (13) Lichen Puffball Calcium Oxalate Fossils; (14) Fossils: Algae, Tube Worms, “Ediacarans,” Metazoans; (15) Tube Worms or Tubular Fungi? We conclude there is life on Mars.
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Technical Report
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We have observed that marine macroalgae produce sound during photosynthesis. The resultant soundscapes correlate with benthic macroalgal cover across shallow Hawaiian coral reefs during the day, despite the presence of other biological noise. Likely ubiquitous but previously overlooked, this source of ambient biological noise in the coastal ocean is driven by local supersaturation of oxygen near the surface of macroalgal filaments, and the resultant formation and release of oxygen-containing bubbles into the water column. During release, relaxation of the bubble to a spherical shape creates a monopole sound source that ‘rings’ at the Minnaert frequency. Many such bubbles create a large, distributed sound source over the sea floor. Reef soundscapes contain vast quantities of biological information, making passive acoustic ecosystem evaluation a tantalizing prospect if the sources are known. Our observations introduce the possibility of a general, volumetrically integrative, noninvasive, rapid and remote technique for evaluating algal abundance and rates of primary productivity in littoral aquatic communities. Increased algal cover is one of the strongest indicators for coral reef ecosystem stress. Visually determining variations in algal abundance is a time-consuming and expensive process. This technique could therefore provide a valuable tool for ecosystem management but also for industrial monitoring of primary production, such as in algae-based biofuel synthesis.
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The Mars rover Spirit encountered outcrops and regolith composed of opaline silica (amorphous SiO2 ·nH2O) in an ancient volcanic hydrothermal setting in Gusev crater. An origin via either fumarole-related acid-sulfate leaching or precipitation from hot spring fluids was suggested previously. However, the potential significance of the characteristic nodular and mm-scale digitate opaline silica structures was not recognized. Here we report remarkably similar features within active hot spring/geyser discharge channels at El Tatio in northern Chile, where halite-encrusted silica yields infrared spectra that are the best match yet to spectra from Spirit. Furthermore, we show that the nodular and digitate silica structures at El Tatio that most closely resemble those on Mars include complex sedimentary structures produced by a combination of biotic and abiotic processes. Although fully abiotic processes are not ruled out for the Martian silica structures, they satisfy an a priori definition of potential biosignatures.
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The study analyses possible parallels of the microbialite-known structures with a set of similar settings selected by a systematic investigation from the wide record and data set of images shot by NASA rovers. Terrestrial cases involve structures both due to bio-mineralization processes and those induced by bacterial metabolism, that occur in a dimensional field longer than 0.1 mm, at micro, meso and macro scales. The study highlights occurrence on Martian sediments of widespread structures like microspherules, often organized into some higher-order settings. Such structures also occur on terrestrial stromatolites in a great variety of ‘Microscopic Induced Sedimentary Structures’, such as voids, gas domes and layer deformations of microbial mats. We present a suite of analogies so compelling (i.e. different scales of morphological, structural and conceptual relevance), to make the case that similarities between Martian sediment structures and terrestrial microbialites are not all cases of ‘Pareidolia’.
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The present work deals with comprehensive and systematic analysis of the physico-chemical environmental complex of a unique tropical high altitude fresh water ecosystem, the Periyar Lake. It is a freshwater reservoir of global significance. Regular monthly investigations for three years were carried out to collect baseline data on the ecosystem structure and function of the Lake. Environment characteristics of the Lake system such as seasonal changes in climate, hydrology, water temperature, secchi depth, electric conductivity, pH, total dissolved solids, total solids, total alkalinity, hardness, dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide2, dissolved mineral ions such as Ca, Mg, K, Na and Cl are described. The major climatic factor of the Lake system was identified as precipitation. Temperature, total solids, total dissolved solids, and all the other physical and chemical characteristics of the waters remained quite normal and similar to an oligotrophic freshwater system and never exceeded the standard values during the entire period of study. Comprehensive plans with an integrated holistic approach were found essential to protect this type of unique tropical freshwater system which may be considered as a ‘common human heritage’. Keywords: Periyar Lake; tropical system; environmental complex, physico-chemical factors, seasonal changes, holistic approach.
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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.
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NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity discovered plentiful indigenous spherical ooids at High Dune and Namib Dune in Bagnold dune field, Gale Crater, Mars. Closely resembling ooids of Earth, the Martian ooids are spherical in shape, similar in size, mostly about 0.5 mm in diameter. Colors of the Martian ooids are various, including white, yellow translucent, green, grey, and yellow. The Martian ooids should have been formed by microbes, because ooids of Earth have recently been found to be formed by microbes and microbial borings are found in ooids of Earth and Mars. The Martian ooids are unlikely to have been formed by non-biological mechanisms, because there was no highly agitated water at the discovery sites.
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The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity investigated plains at Meridiani Planum, where laminated sedimentary rocks are present. The Opportunity rover’s Athena morphological investigation showed microstructures organized in intertwined filaments of microspherules: a texture we have also found on samples of terrestrial (biogenic) stromatolites and other microbialites. We performed a quantitative image analysis to compare images (n=45) of microbialites with the images (n=30) photographed by the rover (corresponding, approximately, to 25,000/15,000 microstructures). Contours were extracted and morphometric indexes were obtained: geometric and algorithmic complexities, entropy, tortuosity, minimum and maximum diameters. Terrestrial and Martian textures present a multifractal aspect. Mean values and confidence intervals from the Martian images overlapped perfectly with those from the terrestrial samples. The probability of this occurring by chance is 1/2^8, less than p<0.004. Terrestrial abiogenic pseudostromatolites showed a simple fractal structure and different morphometric values from those of the terrestrial biogenic stromatolite images or Martian images with a less ordered texture (p<0.001). Our work shows the presumptive evidence of microbialites in the Martian outcroppings: i.e., the presence of unicellular life on the ancient Mars.
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Abstract Sandstone beds of the <3.7 Ga Gillespie Lake Member on Mars have been interpreted as evidence of an ancient playa lake environment. On Earth, such environments have been sites of colonization by microbial mats from the early Archean to the present time. Terrestrial microbial mats in playa lake environments form microbialites known as microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS). On Mars, three lithofacies of the Gillespie Lake Member sandstone display centimeter- to meter-scale structures similar in macroscopic morphology to terrestrial MISS that include "erosional remnants and pockets," "mat chips," "roll-ups," "desiccation cracks," and "gas domes." The microbially induced sedimentary-like structures identified in Curiosity rover mission images do not have a random distribution. Rather, they were found to be arranged in spatial associations and temporal successions that indicate they changed over time. On Earth, if such MISS occurred with this type of spatial association and temporal succession, they would be interpreted as having recorded the growth of a microbially dominated ecosystem that thrived in pools that later dried completely: erosional pockets, mat chips, and roll-ups resulted from water eroding an ancient microbial mat-covered sedimentary surface; during the course of subsequent water recess, channels would have cut deep into the microbial mats, leaving erosional remnants behind; desiccation cracks and gas domes would have occurred during a final period of subaerial exposure of the microbial mats. In this paper, the similarities of the macroscopic morphologies, spatial associations, and temporal succession of sedimentary structures on Mars to MISS preserved on Earth has led to the following hypothesis: The sedimentary structures in the <3.7 Ga Gillespie Lake Member on Mars are ancient MISS produced by interactions between microbial mats and their environment. Proposed here is a strategy for detecting, identifying, confirming, and differentiating possible MISS during current and future Mars missions. Key Words: Astrobiology-Life on Mars-Microbial mats-MISS-Biosignature-Curiosity rover. Astrobiology 15, xxx-xxx.
Article
Spring and evaporite deposits are considered two of the most promising environments for past habitability on Mars and preservation of biosignatures. Manitoba, Canada hosts the East German Creek (EGC) hypersaline spring complex, and the post impact evaporite gypsum beds of the Lake St. Martin (LSM) impact. The EGC complex has microbial mats, sediments, algae and biofabrics, while endolithic communities are ubiquitous in the LSM gypsum beds. These communities are spectrally detectable based largely on the presence of a chlorophyll absorption band at 670 nm; however, the robustness of this feature under Martian surface conditions was unclear. Biological and biology-bearing samples from EGC and LSM were exposed to conditions similar to the surface of present day Mars (high UV flux, 100 mbar, anoxic, CO2 rich) for up to 44 days, and preservation of the 670 nm chlorophyll feature and chlorophyll red-edge was observed. A decrease in band depth of the 670 nm band ranging from similar to 16 to 80% resulted, with correlations seen in the degree of preservation and the spatial proximity of samples to the spring mound and mineral shielding effects. The spectra were deconvolved to Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Pancam and Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mastcam science filter bandpasses to investigate the detectability of the 670 nm feature and to compare with common mineral features. The red-edge and 670 nm feature associated with chlorophyll can be distinguished from the spectra of minerals with features below similar to 1000 nm, such as hematite and jarosite. However, distinguishing goethite from samples with the chlorophyll feature is more problematic, and quantitative interpretation using band depth data makes little distinction between iron oxyhydroxides and the 670 nm chlorophyll feature. The chlorophyll spectral feature is observable in both Pancam and Mastcam, and we propose that of the proposed EXOMARS Pancam filters, the PHYLL filter is best suited for its detection.
Article
This study, using the Microscopic Imager (MI) of NASA Rover Exploration Mission's (REM) ‘Opportunity’, aims to explain the origin of laminated sediments lying at Meridiani Planum of Mars, and of the strange spherules, known as blueberries, about which several hypotheses have been formulated. To this purpose, images of the sedimentary textures of layers and fragments captured by REM have been analysed; sediments that NASA has already established as ‘pertinent to water presence’. Our study shows that such laminated sediments and the spherules they contain could be organosedimentary structures, probably produced by microorganisms. The laminated structures are characterized by a sequence of a thin pair of layers, which have the features of skeletal/agglutinated laminae and whose basic constituents are made by a partition of septa and vacuoles radially arranged around a central one. The growth of these supposed organosedimentary masses is based on the ‘built flexibility’ of such a basal element; it may be a coalescing microfossil formed by progressive film accretion (calcimicrobe), in a variety of geometrical gross forms, such as a repeated couplet sequence of laminae or domal mass and large composite polycentric spherule, both in elevation. The acquired structural and textural data seem to be consistent with the existence of life on Mars and could explain an origin of sediments at Meridiani Planum similar to that of terrestrial stromatolites. The Martian deposits, probably produced by cyanobacterial activity, and the embedded blueberries could represent a recurrent and multiform product of colonies with sheath forms, resembling in shape those of the fossil genus Archaeosphaeroides (stromatolites of Fig Tree, South Africa).
Article
Endolithic photosynthetic microorganisms like cyanobacteria and algae are well known from savannas and deserts of the world, the high Arctic, and also Antarctic habitats like the Dry Valleys in the Ross Dependency. These endolithic microbial communities are thought to be at the limits of life with reported ages in the order of thousands of years. Here we report on an extensive chasmoendolithic cyanobacterial community inside granite rocks of Mt. Falconer in the lower Taylor Valley, Dry Valleys. On average, the cyanobacterial community was 4.49 ± 0.95 mm below the rock surface, where it formed a blue-green layer. The community was composed mainly of the cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis sp., with occasional Cyanothece cf. aeruginosa (Nägeli) Komárek and Nostoc sp. Mean biomass was 168 ± 44 g carbon · m−2, and the mean chl a content was 24.3 ± 34.2 mg · m−2. In situ chl fluorescence measurements—a relative measure of photosynthetic activity—showed that they were active over long periods each day and also showed activity the next day in the absence of any moisture. Radiocarbon dating gave a relatively young age (175–280 years) for the community. Calculations from microclimate data demonstrated that formation of dew or rime was possible and could frequently activate the cyanobacteria and may explain the younger age of microbial communities at Mt. Falconer compared to older and less active endolithic microorganisms reported earlier from Linnaeus Terrace, a higher altitude region that experiences colder, drier conditions.
Article
Analysis of three component color pictures taken by the Viking lander camera on Mars has established color differences for the background material, the rocks and spots on the rocks. Changes in the location of greenish rock patches and ground patterns have been observed over time. A combination of wind movement of dust and dirt dropped by sampler arm operations could have produced the slight changes in pattern and position. However, the observed patches, patterns and changes could also be attributable to biological activity. Analysis of six component color data on the same scene confirms the observations including the greenish color of the rock patches.
Cyanobacteria in Diverse Habitats. Cyanobacteria From Basic Science to Applications
  • L A Gaysina
  • A Saraf
  • P Singh
Gaysina, L.A, Saraf, A.and Singh, P. (2019). Cyanobacteria in Diverse Habitats. Cyanobacteria From Basic Science to Applications, Wiley.
  • L E Graham
  • J M Graham
  • L W Wilcox
  • M E Cook
Graham, L.E., Graham, J.M., Wilcox, L.W., Cook, M.E. (2016). Algae. LJLM Press, Madison.
  • R Joseph
Joseph, R. (2014) Life on Mars: Lichens, Fungi, Algae, Cosmology, 22, 40-62.
Fungi on Mars? Evidence of Growth and Behavior From Sequential Images
  • N Duxbury
  • H Rabb
  • K Latif
  • R Schild
Duxbury, N., Rabb, H., Latif, K., Schild, R. (2021) Fungi on Mars? Evidence of Growth and Behavior From Sequential Images. Astrobiology Research Report, 5/1/2021, ResearchGate.net https://www.researchgate.net/ publication/351252619
Ancient Martian biomorphs from the rim of Endeavour Crater: similarities with fossil terrestrial microalgae
  • J Kaźmierczak
Kaźmierczak, J., (2016). Ancient Martian biomorphs from the rim of Endeavour Crater: similarities with fossil terrestrial microalgae. In book: Paleontology, Stratigraphy, Astrobiology, in commemoration of 80th anniversary of A. Yu. Rozanov, Publisher: Borissiak Paleontological Institute RAS, Moscow, Editor: S.V. Rozhnov, pp. 229-242.
The Orgueil Meteorites (Atlas of Microfossils)
  • A Razanov
  • Yu
Razanov, A. Yu., et al. (2020) The Orgueil Meteorites (Atlas of Microfossils). Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Russian Academy of Sciences.
On Debris Flows and Mineral Veins -Where surface life resides on Mars
  • L W Small
Small, L. W, (2015) On Debris Flows and Mineral Veins -Where surface life resides on Mars. https://www.scribd.com/doc/284247475/On-Debris-Flows-eBook
Seeding the Solar System with Life
  • R Joseph
  • O Planchon
  • C H Gibson
  • R Schild
Joseph R., Planchon, O., Gibson, C. H., Schild, R. (2020b). Seeding the Solar System with Life: Mars, Venus, Earth, Moon, Protoplanets. Open Astronomy, 29, 1. doi.org/10.1515/astro-2020-0019.
  • R Joseph
  • O Planchon
  • N S Duxbury
  • K Latif
  • G J Kidron
  • L Consorti
  • R A Armstrong
  • C H Gibson
  • R Schild
Joseph, R., Planchon, O., Duxbury, N.S., Latif, K., Kidron, G.J., Consorti, L., Armstrong, R. A., Gibson, C. H., Schild, R., (2020c) Oceans, Lakes and Stromatolites on Mars, Advances in Astronomy, 2020, doi.org/ 10.1155/2020/6959532