Thanks to science and the increasing development of technology, we now know exactly what Mars looks like, seeing as NASA has managed to put two rovers on our neighboring planet. For years, the rovers traveled across the surface of the planet, taking photographs and performing tests on the soil. In the process, they have made some incredible discoveries that may prove the existence of life on Mars.
Among all the data which has been sent over the years have been more than a few interesting things, some of which point to the very likely fact that Mars once hosted life. It may not be the kind of little green aliens books and movies have told us about, but it remains incredible, nonetheless.
Click ‘Start Slideshow’ and discover life on Mars from these amazing NASA photos!
The First Indications
Our understanding of carbon-based life, which is basically everything on our planet, tells us that water is a necessity for things to live. If this holds true for Mars, the discovery of liquid water on the planet would be a pretty big deal, as it would let us know life could have existed. This image taken by the Curiosity rover shows layers of rock in Gale Crater which show signs of liquid water.
More Signs of Water
As Curiosity made its way slowly across the planet, it stopped to take tests here and there, using a brush attachment to brush away the dust which had accumulated over the centuries, getting to the hard ground beneath. The color was quite different from the reddish dust. Instead, it was something of a pale gray. This particular section is called “Windjana,” and it has some interesting texture on it.
Using its special drill, because everything on the Curiosity is special, the rover dug into the soil. Before digging into Windjana, the rover had only drilled twice before. In those instances, certain chemicals were found which excited scientists. In particular, the second drilling exposed very large amounts of a chemical called chlorobenzene. This chemical is known as one of the building blocks of life. Just as cool, the stone itself started out as mud, further proving water was around.
The hope when digging into this particular bit of rock, Windjana, is to get an understanding of what binds the grains of the stone together. Discovering the composition could lead to a greater understanding of the makeup of Mars, and eventually to the idea of whether or not the planet ever has been, or if it could be, habitable by life.
Methane is an interesting chemical. In pretty much all cases, save for a combination of chemicals, methane is created by life. It is an organic compound released by living things in various situations. Finding this on Mars would be interesting for various reasons, the most important being the fact it could be a sign of life. Curiosity found something exciting a few years ago, something which can’t quite be explained yet.
Ooh, That Smell
Back in 2014, Curiosity was exploring and came across something strange. There was methane in the air. Now, a small amount of methane is not unusual. Methane is found deep underground, typically, and some is released by impacts, such as a meteor, or perhaps a large geological event, like an earthquake. Curiosity, however, discovered a large spike in methane. One which dissipated shortly after. What could this mean?
Scientists have a couple ideas in mind, one far more exciting than the others. It could be there is some geological event going on which is releasing methane which has developed underground into the atmosphere. It could also mean new methane is being created, which would point to the presence of liquid water under the ground. Finally, there could actually still be life on Mars, either underground or somewhere on the surface, which is producing methane. That’s crazy!
Needing Something New
This isn’t the first time methane levels have fluctuated on the red planet, but it’s the first time we’ve been able to see it happen from so close. In the past, satellites and such have caught the action, but Curiosity helped us get a better view. Still, it’s not quite good enough, and Curiosity isn’t necessarily the best tool for the job. To really get to the root of this methane question, scientists say we need to send new tools to Mars in order to hopefully get some answers.
Life on Mars
Now, barring any sort of underground bases, life on Mars is going to be quite small. We’re talking microscopic levels of smallness with little organisms called microbes. These exist on Earth, too, of course. The existence of microbes was actually discovered in 1670, and the study of them has lead to many improvements in life, such as pasteurization. Microbes, more specifically microorganisms, run the gamut from bacteria to fungi.
Some folks out there believe the Mars rover has seen life on Mars. Not the microbic life, mind you, but large, stalking, crawling sort of life. People have zoomed in and examined every inch of the images which have been transmitted from Mars, and they’re sure they’ve seen all manner of strange creatures lurking in the shadows of the red planet.
The Woman of Mars
Humans have never been to Mars, right? You might think again when you see what appears to be a woman walking across the surface of the planet. How did she get there? Has she always been there? These are questions which will likely never be answered, as the rover has science to do.
Perhaps the reason we’ve never seen life on Mars is because of how easily life blends into its environment. For all we know, the Martians have been sitting on top of hills, blending in with the surrounds, watching Curiosity roll on by. Perhaps that is the case with this woman-like shape.
Crabs are pretty remarkable creatures. So remarkable, in fact, they may have made it all the way to Mars. Check out this picture which looks incredibly like a hermit crab crawling along the planet’s surface. You can certainly make out what appear to be several legs slowly walking forward and what appears to be some sort of rock-shell. Remarkable, indeed.
If finding liquid water is the primary goal of NASA in regards to Mars, maybe they’ve already found it. Keen-eyed folk noticed this picture taken by the Mars rover which appears to show liquid water flowing from a rock formation, creating mud down the hillside. Could this be the proof NASA needs?
Do You See It?
Some claim this still from a video posted by NASA shows a small creature peeking out of a cave. While, from one angle, it looks like a small animal of some sort, it could also be seen as a humanoid figure, perhaps spying from the darkness on the rover as Curiosity rolls by. Then again, it could be a trick of the light, but that’s simply not any fun.
Considering my fascination with Stonehenge and other megalithic standing stone structures, this one is especially interesting to me. This shot was taken from space, so you can tell these are a little bigger than your ordinary rocks, and they certainly appear to be placed in some sort of pattern. One must wonder why they haven’t sent the rover to check this out. It doesn’t exactly look natural, to me.
What makes us think we were the first species to get a drone to Mars? This picture shows what could very well be another drone sent to the red planet. Then again, it could also just be a rock which is vaguely shaped like a drone. In this case, that seems more likely to me. But, again, that is nowhere near as fun.
I don’t know about you, but this looks like something straight out of a Ridley Scott film. That looks a whole lot like the facehuggers in his Alien series of films, just chilling out under the outcropping of a rock. The rounded appendages certainly don’t look like any kind of rock feature I’ve seen before. We’ll have to keep an eye out for xenomorphs once we get the manned missions going.
The Thigh Bone
Another curious discovery from Curiosity had people quite excited. Curiosity grabbed a picture of a bunch of broken stones, likely weathered down by wind and time. At the center of the image, however, was something peculiar: a large femur-shaped object. What would a femur be doing on a deserted planet? Was this some sort of humanoid bone, or something else entirely? NASA assures people it’s just another weathered rock, but we won’t be convinced so readily.
The Face on Mars
Nothing has intrigued believers in extraterrestrial life in the same way the face on Mars did. Back in 1976, Viking 1 made its way around the red planet, taking photos of the surface. On July 25, 1976, it discovered what appeared to be a giant face on the planet’s surface. One not unlike the face of the Sphinx in Egypt, which led to even more theories regarding the origin of the strange structure.
Over the years, our perception of the face changed as more images were taken. According to NASA, the image of the face was purely an optical illusion; a trick of the light which confused people into seeing what appeared to be a giant structure. However, I think it’s entirely possible NASA is now doctoring these images and hiding the fact a piece of ancient Martian history had been revealed. We want answers!
Looking for Life
Until we can get people out to the planet and do some real excavation and archaeological work, it’s likely going to be impossible to determine whether or not life has now, or ever, existed on our neighbor in the solar system.
Until then, we can only keep our imaginations active and hope, perhaps, we’ll make first contact someday. Barring some sort of hostile alien race, the only way to go from a discovery like this is up.