Author and astronomer David Darling discussed why he believes that extraterrestrial life is astrobiological fact and for persuasive evidence of microbial life, we need look no further than our celestial neighbor, Mars. The Viking missions of 1976, found evidence of life in the Martian soil, but it was ignored due to faulty readings of a spectrometer that didn't find any carbon molecules, he detailed. More recently, evidence from the Phoenix Mars Lander showed UMOs (unidentified moving objects) in the soil, which he suspects are single-celled organisms (see images below). Under the soil, there could be a bigger community of life forms, perhaps something on the order of worms, he added.
Life could also exist elsewhere in our solar system. While the surface of Venus may be too hot to sustain life, "we do know that particles exist in the atmosphere of Venus, similar in size to bacteria," and these could actually be life forms that thrive about 30 miles above the ground in the dense "cloud deck," he said. Further, there are underground oceans on moons like Europa that might harbor life, as well as Saturn's moon, Titan, which has hydrocarbon lakes. Interestingly, there is a hydrocarbon lake on Earth, and "extremophiles" have been found living there, he noted.
There is also the possibility that life could be based on a structure other than carbon- "maybe it's based on silicon, maybe it could be based on pure radiation-- we don't know the limits of life," he commented. Regarding intelligent ETs visiting Earth, Darling suggested they could be observing our planet, using cloaked probes that we can't detect-- "It seems to me highly likely that we are being surveyed from a distance, and possibly from within the solar system as well."
Last hour guest, reporter Greg Hunter offered analysis on Congress' Healthcare vote, and what will happen next. A lot of the costs won't be seen right away, but the currently insured are eventually going to see their premiums rise to help pay for the newly insured, he predicted. He also pointed out a possible loophole-- if a person doesn't purchase insurance, they'll pay a fine of $670, but they can later buy healthcare if they become ill.
Viking: Viking 1 on the surface of Mars in 1976. Two of the Viking biology experiments gave strong signals of life in the Martian soil.
Mars_magnetite: The best evidence for life in meteorites from Mars comes from chains of crystals of magnetite (magnetic iron oxide) which are identical to such chains made by bacteria on Earth. Top: A chain of magnetite crystals inside a modern bacterium, as seen in an electron microscope. Bottom: A chain of magnetite crystals in the Mars meteorite ALH84001 (shown by arrows). The diameter of a single crystal is about one-millionth of an inch.
Mars methane: Hot spots of methane on Mars. This map shows where methane emission is strongest in the northern hemisphere summer on the Red Planet. Plumes have been seen rising up from regions known as Arabia Terra, Nili Fossae, and south-east Syrtis Major.
Phoenix UMOs: First glimpse of Martians? A time-lapse sequence of images taken by the microscope aboard the Mars Phoenix Lander in 2009. They show three small objects, labeled A, B, and C, which have clearly moved, while all other features in the images have stayed in the same place. The size of these objects is consistent with them being single-celled organisms.
Bumper music from Monday March 22, 2010